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‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness’ quote is by Martin Luther King

A series of memes often shared on Facebook in South Africa attributes a quote on love and hate to Dr Martin Luther King Jr. And the quote is often flagged as possibly false by the social network’s fact-checking system.

It reads: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

King was a Christian minister, a powerful orator and a leader of the US civil rights movement from 1955 until his assassination in 1968. Quotes from his speeches, sermons and books are often shared online. Former US president Barack Obama shared this particular quote on Facebook in 2015. 

But does it come from King? Yes.



Quote in 1963 book by King


The quote can be found in Strength to Love, a collection of King’s writing published in 1963.

It’s on page 37 of the 1963 Harper & Row edition of the book.

The fuller passage reads: “Why should we love our enemies? The first reason is fairly obvious. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness implies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.” – Butchie Seroto




 

For publishers: what to do if your post is rated false

A fact-checker has rated your Facebook or Instagram post as “false”. What should you do? First, don't delete!

Click on our guide for the steps you should follow.

Publishers guide

Africa Check teams up with Facebook

Africa Check is a partner in Facebook’s third-party fact-checking programme to help stop the spread of false information on social media.

The content we rate as “false” will be downgraded on Facebook and Instagram. This means fewer people will see it.

You can also help identify false information on Facebook. This guide explains how.

Further Reading

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