The Best of Dr. Bernice King: Big Ideas From Her Last 3,000 Tweets

Dear Everybody,

Dr. Bernice A. King is the Chief Executive Officer of the King Center. She is an activist and minister, and the youngest child of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King.

I organized and distilled her last 3,000 tweets into a summary of her big ideas, in two parts:

  1. Social Justice and Social Progress

  2. Curated Quotes on Civil Rights and Social Justice


Racism exists…

  • Racism is not a hoax

  • Racism is not a myth

  • Racism is not a thing of the past

Racism kills…

  • Racism is dangerous

  • Racism is destructive

  • Racism is dehumanizing

Racism is systemic…

  • Racism is social

  • Racism is structural

  • Racism is power-hungry

Racism prevents progress…

  • Racism cultivates bigotry

  • Racism plows through respectability

  • Racism makes everything about race

But there’s hope…

  • Hope is being honest

  • Hope is believing there’s more

  • Hope is engaging in the work for more

We need truth…

  • Truth is love

  • Truth fortifies

  • Truth abounds

  • Truth precedes reconciliation

Change is rooted in love…

  • Love is active

  • Love is reactive

  • Love is proactive

Love works for justice…

  • It changes hearts

  • It changes policies

  • It changes systems

  • It changes rhetoric

  • It changes behaviors

And love is more than kindness…

  • Love is potent

  • Love is reverent

  • Love is undefeated

  • Love is transcendent

  • Love is authentic worship

  • Love is resistance to hate and injustice

Justice corrects what stands against love…

  • Justice is power

  • Justice is tangible

  • Justice is indivisible

  • Justice is beyond noise

  • Justice is on the path to civility

  • Justice is LOVE applied to systems and cultures

Do not adjust yourself to injustice…

  • Resist

  • Be maladjusted

  • Refuse to succumb to apathy

  • Never intend to adjust yourself

  • (Refusing to hate does not equal refusing to resist injustice)

Against is a response…

  • FOR is a posture

  • Know what you are FOR

  • Commit to BEING what you are FOR

  • Let a love-centered, generationally-influencing FOR be your fuel

If you’re not working for JUSTICE, stop calling for PEACE…

  • True peace is not the absence of tension

  • True peace is the presence of justice

Nonviolence is the way…

  • Nonviolence is active

  • Nonviolence is principled

  • Nonviolence is love-centered

  • Nonviolence is noncooperation with evil

  • (Let provocateurs leave empty handed)

Build people power…

  • Vote

  • Work

  • March

  • Boycott

  • Advocate

  • Be informed

  • Get involved

  • Pay attention

  • Take direct action

  • Engage in strategic protest

  • Get involved in local issues

  • Connect with coalitions and movements

  • Organize strength into compelling power

CALL TO THE NATION: Black lives do matter…

  • Black Lives Matter is an invitation

  • Black Lives Matter does not exclude

  • Black Lives Matter is a call to denounce the evils of racism

  • Black Lives Matter is activism committed to ensuring Black lives are a part of the ALL

Love Black people…

  • Do something to save Black lives

  • Encourage someone Black today

  • Speak truth to White people in power

  • Until Black people are free, no one is fully free

  • Black people shouldn’t have to be brutalized to be seen

  • Have conversations with White people about eradicating situational and systemic racism

Be antiracist…

  • Step up

  • Speak out

  • Shape change

  • Gather information

  • Commit to better understanding

  • Have the courage to work for justice

Supplant racism with truth, equity, justice, and love…

  • See human beings

  • Love your neighbor

  • Heighten your language

  • Beckon yourself far above civility

  • Make every breath count for your ancestors, for your God, and for humanity

Remember, you are Someone…

  • You have a role

  • You matter greatly

  • You are a part of us all


We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality.


In the days ahead we must not consider it unpatriotic to raise certain basic questions about our national character.


You can pray until you faint, but unless you get up and try to do something, God is not going to put it in your lap.

-Fannie Lou Hamer

It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.

-James Baldwin

…just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else.

-Toni Morrison

Love is or it ain't. Thin love ain't love at all.

-Toni Morrison

There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in.

-Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Slavery has never been abolished from America's way of thinking.

-Nina Simone

If I fall, I'll fall five feet four inches forward in the fight for freedom. I'm not backing off.

-Fannie Lou Hamer

If you take racism away from certain people - I mean, vitriolic racism as well as the sort of social racist - if you take that away, they may have to face something really terrible, misery, self-misery, and deep pain about who they are.

-Toni Morrison

Justice is love correcting everything that stands against love.


All we say to America is ‘Be true to what you said on paper.’


Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed.

-Proverbs 31:8

I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of thermonuclear destruction. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality.

-MLK, Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech

Do you know what I want?

I want justice - oceans of it.

I want fairness - rivers of it.

That's what I want.

-Amos 5:24

Guard your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.

-Proverbs 4:23

There is always something left to love. And if you ain't learned that, you ain't learned nothing.

-Lorraine Hansberry

Social justice is not the totality of the Gospel, but the Gospel - without a commitment to neighbor, mercy, justice, and the common good (aka social justice)- is not a faithful Gospel.

-Eugene Cho

I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.


The problems of racial injustice and economic injustice cannot be solved without a radical redistribution of political and economic power.


Our nation was born in genocide when it embraced the doctrine that the original American, the Indian, was an inferior race.

-MLK, Why We Can’t Wait (1964)

The question is not, “If I stop to help this man in need, what will happen to me?”

“If I do not stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to them?”

That's the question.


No human being is illegal.

-Elie Wiesel

History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.

-Maya Angelou

Learn to do good; seek justice; rebuke the oppressor; defend the fatherless; plead for the widow.

-Isaiah 1:17

To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the LORD than an offering.

-Proverbs 21:3

It's all right to talk about 'streets flowing with milk and honey,' but God has commanded us to be concerned about the slums down here, and his children who can't eat three square meals a day.


People were created to be loved. Things were created to be used. The reason the world is in chaos, is because things are being loved, and people are being used.


I still have faith in the future...I will not join anyone who will say that we still can't develop a coalition of conscience.


Every day, we get to decide what we'll give to the world and what we'll take from it. Love big; pack light.

-Bob Goff

You be can good to people and still win, I promise.

-Joél Leon

You mortals, the LORD has told you what is good. This is what the LORD requires from you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to live humbly with your God.

-Micah 6:8

When you satisfy the needs of the oppressed, your night will become like the noonday.

-Isaiah 58:10

There is no fear in love. Instead, complete love drives out fear.

-1 John 4:18

Maybe you were made queen for just such a time as this.

-Esther 4:14

If one is truly devoted to the religion of Jesus, [that person] will seek to rid the earth of social evils. The gospel is social as well as personal.


If you are motivated by love and purpose and intention, keep creating.

-Joél Leon

Let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!

-Amos 5:24

We pledge allegiance

All our lives

To the magic colors

Red, blue and white

But we all must be given

The liberty that we defend

For with justice not for all men

History will repeat again

It's time we learned

This world was made for all men.

-Stevie Wonder

No one surveying the moral landscape of our nation can overlook the hideous and pathetic wreckage of commitment twisted and turned to a thousand shapes under the stress of prejudice and irrationality.


Cursed is anyone who withholds justice from the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow. Then all the people shall say, “Amen!”

Deuteronomy 27:19

We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there "is" such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.


I am a vessel, full of power. I have a treasure in me.

-Duranice Pace, MLK Commemorative Service

This does not imply that all white Americans are racists—far from it. Many white people have, through a deep moral compulsion, fought long and hard for racial justice.


In the Beloved Community, caring and compassion drive political policies that support the worldwide elimination of poverty and hunger and all forms of bigotry and violence.

-Coretta Scott King

Her creative ability and her profound grasp of the deep social issues confronting the world today will remain an inspiration to generations yet unborn.

-MLK, regarding Lorraine Hansberry, as read at her January 15, 1965 funeral

Compassion without action is meaningless.

-Mily Cohen, VP, Musuem of Memory and Tolerance in Mexico City

We have to find our way back to one another or fear is going to require vulnerability and the willingness to choose courage over comfort.

-Brené Brown

I am made to sound like an attachment...

I was never just a wife, nor a widow. I was always more than a label.

-Coretta Scott King

People who think nonviolence is easy don’t realize that it’s a spiritual discipline that requires a great deal of strength, growth, and purging of the self so that one can overcome almost any obstacle for the good of all without being concerned about one’s own welfare.

-Coretta Scott King

May I stress the need for courageous, intelligent and dedicated leadership...Leaders not in love with publicity, but in love with justice. Leaders not in love with money, but in love with humanity.


They existed. They existed.

We can be. Be and be

better. For they existed.

-Maya Angelou, When Great Trees Fall

If your Christianity makes emperors feel comfortable and oppressed people feel unsafe, it's time for a grand reversal.

-Jonathan Martin

Enlarged material powers spell enlarged peril if there is not proportionate growth of the soul.

-MLK, Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech

Love is the motive, but justice is the instrument.

-Reinhold Niebuhr

I do not give to you as the world gives.

-Jesus (John 14:27)

In the area of economic justice we still have a long way to go. We have too many people who are discriminated against just because they happen to be black or they happen to be a woman or some other minority.

-Coretta Scott King

Something is happening in our world. The masses of people are rising up. And wherever they are assembled today...the cry is always the same: ‘We want to be free.’


There is something deeply hypocritical about praying for a problem you are unwilling to resolve.

-Miroslav Volf

I am terrified at the moral apathy, the death of the heart which is happening in my country.

-James Baldwin

Explore, become educated, and forge relationships with people that can help you understand.

-Daniel Hill

We not only had geographical colonization, but ideological colonization as well.

-Pastor Don McLaughlin

If you can only be tall because someone else is on their knees, then you have a serious problem.

-Toni Morrison

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.


There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love.


Noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good...To accept injustice or segregation passively is to say to the oppressor that his actions are morally right.


The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.

-Coretta Scott King

Hatred paralyzes life;

Love releases it.

Hatred confuses life;

Love harmonizes it.

Hatred darkens life;

Love illuminates it.


There is no deficit in human resources. There is a deficit in human will.


You can’t achieve your way out of childhood trauma.

-Will Smith

Although I am a woman of strong faith, I admit that my spirit sometimes struggled to overcome the heaviness of the tragedies around me. When heartbreak knocked on my door, I learned to let faith answer.

-Coretta Scott King

Being poor is not a character flaw.

-Rep Ayanna Pressley

Contempt for poverty is violence.

-Coretta Scott King

We are tied together in a single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality.


Use me, God. Show me how to take who I am, who I want to be, and what I can do, and use it for a purpose greater than myself.


No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.

-Rosa Parks

Our country is grieving. Each child who has been slaughtered belongs to each of us and each slain adult is a member of our family...We need to hold each other’s hands and look into each other’s eyes and say, “I am sorry.”

-Maya Angelou

Those who love peace must learn to organize as effectively as those who love war.


Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

-Proverbs 4:23

Let’s turn to each other and not on each other.

-Rev. Dr. Joseph E. Lowery


I'll be at the table

When company comes.

Nobody'll dare

Say to me,

“Eat in the kitchen,”



They'll see how beautiful I am

And be ashamed—

I, too, am America.

-Langston Hughes

During times of war, hatred becomes quite respectable, even though it has to masquerade often under the guise of patriotism.

-Howard Thurman

I feel sorry for anybody that could let hate wrap them up. Ain't no such thing as I can hate anybody and hope to see God's face.

-Fannie Lou Hamer

Being kind in an unjust system is not enough.

-Sister Helen Prejean

The hour is late. The clock of destiny is ticking out. We must act now, before it is too late.

-MLK, The American Dream

Had they and I but met

At some old residence in Ensely

Had they put their badges

Before their criminal affiliations

Claiming to be Law

Claiming to serve and protect

-Nate Woods, The Man He Killed




my first country.

the first place I ever lived.

-Nayyirah Waheed, Poet

Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.


Defend the poor and orphaned.

Do justice to the afflicted and needy.

Deliver the poor and needy.

Free them from the hand of the wicked.

-Psalm 82: 3-4

Social justice and progress are the absolute guarantors of riot prevention.


Thank you for reading! 

If you'd like more Big Idea Summaries like this, please do join the email list.      

And follow me on Twitter!