We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right. – Martin Luther King Jr.

Life is one of the most valuable things and what makes it so valuable is the time that we have. Some people utilize this time in a good way while others do not use it in the right manner. By the end of it, only those who are using the time in the right way succeed. However, some people just fear the right time. Martin Luther King Jr, a famous American activist, said “We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right”. 

Martin Luther King Jr

Who was Martin Luther King Jr.?

Martin Luther King Jr. was an American activist who spoke for different types of civil rights, mainly representing African American citizens. He lived between 1929 and 1968. He was assassinated in 1968. King worked tirelessly for the people through non-violent and peaceful protests and similar campaigns. He participated in several movements which were directly related to human rights such as the labor rights movement, the right to vote movement, and others as well. The most famous speeches include “I Have a Dream” which was delivered by King on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. 

For his outstanding works, King won the Nobel Peace Prize as well. Throughout his life, he encountered several problems and was sent to jail multiple times as well. However, his message for fighting against poverty, capitalism, and other societal issues continued until his assassination. Martin Luther King Jr. always spoke for issues directly affecting the people without taking in any of his own benefits. Today, King Jr. is remembered in golden words.

A portrait of Martin Luther King Jr

Origin of this Quote

Martin Luther King Jr. was jailed in 1963 he was arrested during a protest in the favor of blacks in Birmingham, Alabama. According to one court notice, King could not hold any kind of protests in Birmingham. For this reason, he was arrested and jailed. During his time in jail, he wrote a letter to his followers where he insisted that people should stand up for their rights and fight for justice. This letter is commonly known as “Letter from a Birmingham Jail [King, Jr.]”. In this letter, he said the quote “We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right”.

Meaning of this Quote

The famous quote by Martin Luther King Jr. talks about different walks of life surrounding the key aspect of time. 

Context of the Quote

The primary meaning of this quote can be taken from the context it was said in. In 1963, King was quite concerned about the upcoming election. The existing situation which involved riots in American cities was also quite upsetting. King wanted his followers to know that they needed to stand up for justice, and stand up for what was right. He urged the people to follow the principles of brotherhood and focus on human dignity instead of racial profiling. He motivated others to not stay silent over the ongoing situation. 

Time is Money

The most important thing in this life is time. At a certain point in our lives, people start to believe that they don’t have time. On other occasions, they feel like they have too much time but aren’t doing anything in particular. The dilemma is real and it is causing people various problems. We aren’t using our time creatively which is why most of us are just living the life and not turning it into the life we want. 

For example, a person employed at his job really is just making a simple living out of it. While he may say that he does not have time to focus or do something else, he may not be entirely right. There are weekends, holidays, free time, and so much more as well. The need to use this time creatively is high. Most would spend a weekend with friends or family while they could use the same time in a much more creative manner to invest in themselves, on a new business venture, or explore life out of the box that they are trapped in. 

Martin Luther King Jr. explains with this quote that only those who succeed use their time creatively in the right manner. Instead of coming up with excuses for no time or wasting extra time, successful people utilize whatever they have to make the best possible outcome for them. Keep a note that King explains the aspect of doing right in your time and not utilizing it for any bad outcomes. 

The real-life examples are quite clear too. If we take a look at the life of Mark Zuckerberg, he created several softwares and support systems before creating Facebook. He failed many times but he still used the time creatively by investing and improving himself rather than wasting that time going out with friends, hanging around, or just casually lying around. Back then, his hard work may have been a troublesome journey but now, he is enjoying all the time to himself. 

King spoke against the concept of Racism

Right has No Limits

The later part of this quote by Martin Luther King Jr. explains the fact that going the right path does not carry any sort of boundaries. As long as you are doing the right thing, everything is going to be in your favor. One must not feel that going the right path requires a certain time. The time to do right is always there and it is only the willingness that we require to utilize the time. 

Dr. Martin Luther King also focuses on the fact that we should be following the right path without coming up with any excuses for it. Many people know the difference between right and wrong but they come up with excuses to defend the right. As a result, we end up making a series of bad decisions that may not seem bad immediately, but in the long run, these decisions are what we regret the most. 

Martin Luther King delivered the speech called “I have a dream”

Time is Never Ripe to do Wrong

While supporting the claim that the time is always ripe to do right, Martin Luther King Jr. also gives the idea that time is never ripe to do wrong. One must abstain from any bad planning or activities because it will all eventually be gone. Utilizing time in the wrong manner would eventually make you lose the worth of it. Time “respects” those who respect it and those that indulge themselves with wrongful acts, time leaves them away. 

Consider that with any criminal example. A burglar breaks in and steals stuff. He keeps on doing that repeatedly until one day, he gets caught. The time that he freely had, he used it in stealing stuff from other people which means now, time is no longer in his control and he has to spend it the way he is dictated. In the end, Time and Karma are two links of the same channel. 


Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the greatest activists and motivational speakers of all time. His words are still remembered by the world in golden letters. All of his sayings are directed towards living life in a better way, including this particular quote about time and its usage. From the above-mentioned themes as well as examples, we can also reshape our lives to utilize time in a much better manner from onwards. Even Edward J. Stieglitz agrees with the point that time is a valuable aspect of your life.