Who Said It: Martin Luther King Jr. or Barack Obama?


By: Beth Hendricks

6 Min Quiz

Image: Wiki Commons by Rowland Scherman / Center for American Progress Action Fund

About This Quiz

When Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous, "I Have a Dream" speech from the steps of Washington, D.C.'s, Lincoln Memorial in August 1963, the man who would become the United States' 44th president was just barely two years old. Five years later, when King died from the bullet of an assassin's gun, Barack Obama would have been a precocious elementary school student. But, the two – who never met – are inextricably linked in America's history: The first African-American recipient of Time's "Man of the Year" award in 1963. One of the first to ride an integrated bus service in Montgomery, Alabama. The first African-American president of the United States.

Many people believe that King's work paved the way for an Obama presidency. His work to achieve racial, social and political justice and equality for people of all races was King's work and, some might say, a "dream" fulfilled when Obama took office – four decades after King lost his life. Of King, Obama has said: "We have more to do to bring Dr. King's dream within reach of all our daughters and sons. ... As Dr. King told us, 'injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,' and this remains our great unfinished business."

The unfinished business of this quiz, however, is whether or not you can identify who said what. Both men have been noted as great orators and quoted extensively. Can you identify the words of the great civil rights leader from the leader of the free world? Read these inspiring soundbites and tell us: Was it King or Obama?

Who gave us this famous quote: "I have a dream that one day little black boys and girls will be holding hands with little white boys and girls?"

Perhaps one of the most famous quotes of all time, this one comes to us from Martin Luther King Jr. and his "I Have A Dream" speech of 1963. Some 250,000 people were on hand to hear the speech at the March on Washington.


"Americans still believe in an America where anything’s possible – they just don’t think their leaders do." Who said this?

Barack Obama gave us this quote before he ever won the presidency, when he was campaigning for office in 2006. The quote continued, "These are Americans who still dream big dreams – they just sense their leaders have forgotten how."


Who delivered this quote as part of a speech to students: "You can’t let your failures define you – you have to let them teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently next time?"

Barack Obama gave us this tidbit of wisdom during a speech to students at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. The president's message to his audience was one of responsibility and making the most of failures.


"We must live together as brothers or perish together as fools," was uttered by which of these individuals?

Martin Luther King Jr. delivered this quote as part of a speech given in St. Louis in 1964. This quote supports King's belief system that people of all races, religions and backgrounds must work together instead of struggling separately.


Was it King or Obama who said, "The role of citizens in our democracy does not end with your vote?"

After President Barack Obama won a second term in 2012, he delivered this quote as a part of his victory address in Chicago. Obama was reminding those who had voted that their responsibility did not end at the voting booth.


"There's not a liberal America and a conservative America - there's the United States of America," are the words of which of these individuals?

At the 2004 Democratic National Convention, Barack Obama told listeners, "I say to them tonight, there’s not a liberal America and a conservative America; there’s the United States of America. There’s not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America."


Who said, "I have decided to stick to love ... Hate is too great a burden to bear?"

This is perhaps one of our very favorite quotes by civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. In it, he is saying that he prefers to deal with people in "love" because "hate" can be all-consuming.


One of these men said, "Darkness cannot drive out darkness: Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: Only love can do that." Who was it?

Here's another of our favorite Martin Luther King Jr. quotes, where the civil rights leader is speaking about dealing with people in love and light. You cannot combat darkness with more darkness.


Who gave us this tidbit: "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy?"

Martin Luther King Jr. was the one who gave us this quote. It is a reminder that anyone can stand for what's right and good when things are comfortable, but it's where you stand when things are difficult that matters most.


"Let no man pull you so low as to hate him," was a quote delivered by which leader?

Martin Luther King Jr. issued this statement during a sermon he was delivering in November 1956. In it, he was opining on what he thought the Apostle Paul would have to say about the state of the American society.


"Only in the darkness can you see the stars," is a quote attributed to which of these men?

King's quote, "Only in the darkness can you see the stars," is a reminder that even when things seem their worst, you can still find bright spots if you look for them. Many of King's best sayings encourage listeners to focus on positive things.


"Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a constant attitude," was a quote by which man?

Martin Luther King Jr. lived by this quote he believed, that forgiveness is an attitude rather than a singular moment in time. Think of forgiveness as a gift you give to yourself daily, that's what King was trying to convey.


Which figure gave us this soundbite: "In the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope?"

Then-Sen. Barack Obama included this eloquent saying in a speech to supporters after the New Hampshire primary. The idea of "hope" was a recurring theme throughout Obama's election and re-election campaigns.


Which famous figure said, "Hope is the bedrock of this nation; the belief that our destiny will not be written for us, but by us?"

After Obama won the Iowa Caucus in 2008, he issued this quote as part of his victory speech. The quote continues, "... by all those men and women who are not content to settle for the world as it is, who have the courage to remake the world as it should be."


Do you know who said, "No one really knows why they are alive until they know what they'd die for?"

Martin Luther King Jr. not only said this statement, but ultimately ended up living it. He ended up dying in his pursuit of racial and social justice for all people when he was shot and died in a Memphis, Tennessee, hospital.


"We don't ask you to believe in our ability to bring change, rather, we ask you to believe in yours," was declared by which of these men?

Barack Obama campaigned a lot on the idea of hope and change, so this quote is right in line with his message to voters. In it, he seeks to empower people to believe that they are capable of producing the change they seek.


"For that is the true genius of America — that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow." Who said it?

New U.S. President Barack Obama delivered this quote as a part of his victory speech following his election to the office in 2008. It marked the start of eight years of the Obamas living at the White House.


"Where you are right now doesn't have to determine where you'll end up." Who said it?

President Barack Obama delivered this quote as part of a back-to-school speech at a high school in Arlington, Virginia. Obama went on to say in the speech, "No one's written your destiny for you."


Which man said, "A change is brought about because ordinary people do extraordinary things?"

President Barack Obama gave us this quote, where he's saying that ordinary people are capable of producing change because they're not afraid to do extraordinary things.


"Our stories may be singular, but our destination is shared," in an inspirational quote shared by which of these men?

President Barack Obama was gifted in using words to help people understand that while we all come from different walks of life, our destination and hopes for the future can be a shared experience.


"People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don't know each other; they don't know each other because they have not communicated with each other" is a piece of wisdom from which of these leaders?

It is believed that Martin Luther King Jr. actually wrote out this quote in a magazine column. Regardless of its origins, this quote speaks to getting to know the people around you by communicating effectively with them.


Who gave us this quote: "If you’re walking down the right path and you’re willing to keep on walking, eventually you’ll make progress?"

Here's another one about being persistent from the 44th president of the United States. Obama delivered this quote as an encouragement to others to keep pressing toward what is right.


"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." Who gave us this wise saying?

Martin Luther King Jr. was adamant about speaking up to provoke change, a belief that he lived in his day-to-day life. When you stop speaking up about things that matter, your life ceases to be as effective.


Who said, "Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'"

How do you feel about giving back and giving to others? King's quote here, "Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?"" is an admonishment to treat giving to others as one of life's most important measurements.


Which man said, "One voice can change a room, and if one voice can change a room, then it can change a city, and if it can change a city, it can change a state, and if it change a state, it can change a nation, and if it can change a nation, it can change the world. Your voice can change the world?"

Barack Obama gave us this lengthy quote in Boston in 2004. The meaning behind it is that one voice can change the world simply by changing the environment around it. Don't think you have the power to change the world? Obama says differently!


"Faith is taking the first step even when you can't see the whole staircase." Which man gave us this quote?

There is often nothing harder than stepping out on faith without knowing exactly what could happen. That's what Martin Luther King Jr. meant when he delivered this quote: Faith is stepping out without knowing.


Can you guess which man said, "No person has the right to rain on your dreams?"

Martin Luther King Jr. had a lot of say about dreams. This quote, "No person has the right to rain on your dreams," means that your dreams are yours alone and no one should be able to dampen them for you. We like that!


Which man gave us this quote: "While we breathe, we will hope?"

Barack Obama used these words as part of a speech he delivered in South Carolina in 2008. It continued, "... and where we are met with cynicism and doubt and fear and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of the American people in three simple words: 'Yes, we can.'"


"It’s important to make sure that we’re talking with each other in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds," was a quote uttered by which of these men?

The 44th president of the United States understood the power of words. When we're communicating with each other, we must do so from a place of love and healing rather than from a place of trying to hurt someone else.


"Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men," is a famous quote by whom?

Can you imagine if Martin Luther King Jr. had lived into today's age? What would he have thought? King uttered this quote in the 1960s, hinting that we had lost track of what was truly important in life.


Which man said, "Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek?"

When then-Sen. Barack Obama was campaigning, he spoke time and again about the power of change and bringing about change. This quote is him saying that change begins in each one of us.


Who included, "Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity," in his book?

Martin Luther King Jr.'s book, "Strength to Love," generated the quote in this question. The book was a published collection of many of the sermons that King had delivered over the years.


"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere," according to which of these men?

Martin Luther King Jr. gave us this bit of wisdom in a letter that he wrote while incarcerated in the Birmingham Jail. The letter, written in 1963, was addressed to "My Fellow Clergymen."


"The future rewards those who press on. I don’t have time to feel sorry for myself. I don’t have time to complain. I’m going to press on." Who gave us this gem?

At the 2011 Congressional Black Caucus awards dinner, Barack Obama issued this quote about staying persistent. The quote came near the end of Obama's speech, where he issued a challenge for others to press on beside him.


Which man said, "If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward?"

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said this one, delivering it at a rally held on a college campus. The quote was intended to mean that one should keep progressing, no matter the size of the step they're able to take.


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