9 Powerful Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes on Eradicating Poverty

January 16 is a day we get to stop and pause to remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the influence he had on the Civil Rights Movement and his opposition to poverty. Before his assassination in 1968, Dr. King was organizing a march on Washington called the Poor People’s Campaign that would fight for economic justice and equality for the poor in the United States. However, Dr. King also had a lot to say about global poverty and the importance of its eradication.

“Martin Luther King Trial Montgomery Alabama Integration” Time Magazine. (Photo by: Grey Villet—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

  1. “As long as there is poverty in this world, no man can be totally rich even if he has a billion dollars.”

    Dr. King, “The American Dream” speech, 1961.

    A family from Burundi sits in a refugee camp in Rwanda. To learn more about how Food for the Hungry (FH) is helping refugees from Burundi, click here.

  2. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

    Dr. King, “Letter from Birmingham City Jail”, 1963

  3. “God never intended for one group of people to live in superfluous inordinate wealth, while others live in abject deadening poverty.”

    Dr. King, “Strength to Love”, 1963

“American religious and Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr (1929 – 1968) leads a prayer in a church before the second Selma to Montgomery Civil Rights march, also known as ‘Turnaround Tuesday’, Selma, Alabama, 9th March 1965.” Time Magazine. (Photo by: Frank Dandridge/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)

  1. “A second evil which plagues the modern world is that of poverty. Like a monstrous octopus, it projects its nagging, prehensile tentacles in lands and villages all over the world. Almost two-thirds of the peoples of the world go to bed hungry at night. They are undernourished, ill-housed, and shabbily clad. Many of them have no houses or beds to sleep in. Their only beds are the sidewalks of the cities and the dusty roads of the villages. Most of these poverty-stricken children of God have never seen a physician or a dentist.”

    Dr. King, Nobel Peace Prize address, 1964

  1. “There is nothing new about poverty. What is new, however, is that we have the resources to get rid of it.”

    Dr. King, Nobel Peace Prize address, 1964

A livestock distribution in Uganda changed the life of Sarah Kimatuyi, 42. To help buy a cow for a family like Sarah’s click here.

  1. “The rich nations must use their vast resources of wealth to develop the underdeveloped, school the unschooled, and feed the unfed. Ultimately a great nation is a compassionate nation. No individual or nation can be great if it does not have a concern for ‘the least of these.’”

    Dr. King, Nobel Peace Prize address, 1964

“Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. (C) speaking with Rev. Ralph Abernathy (2nd R) and others.” Time Magazine. (Photo by: Paul Schutzer—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

  1. “The time is always right to do what is right.”

    King, Oberlin College Commencement speech, 1965

  1. “While millions enjoy an unexampled opulence in developed nations, ten thousand people die of hunger each and every day of the year in the undeveloped world.”

    Dr. King, “Let My People Go” speech, 1965

Boys receive discipleship training in Kenya. To learn more about how FH works to end spiritual poverty, click here.

  1. “The time has come for us to civilize ourselves by the total, direct and immediate abolition of poverty”

    Dr. King, “Where do we go from Here: Chaos or Community”, 1967

“Civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King speaking with President Lyndon Johnson during a visit to the White House.” Time Magazine. (Photo by: Stan Wayman—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Dr. King was a Christian believer and felt that poverty should be eliminated for all of God’s children. We at Food for the Hungry agree. To find how how we are working to end poverty all across the globe, click here.


Want to learn how you can answer God’s call to end poverty?

In a world where 1.6 billion people live on less than $1.25 per day, you can learn how to help children thrive with Food for the Hungry’s free ebook, The Remarkable Truth About Ending World Poverty.

This free ebook will help you:

  • Understand the root causes of poverty
  • Discover solutions that don’t create dependency
  • Identify ways you can make a difference in a world where 1.6 billion people survive on less than $1.25 per day!