The main driving force behind Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s actions was his vision of racial equality as a moral right, explain Vera Chan and Max Zimbert of Yahoo News. During his speeches, King most frequently cited the Old and New Testaments of the Bible and quoted the words of Jesus Christ, along with famous authors such as Shakespeare and Thomas Jefferson.
Additional inspirations to Dr. King include Gandhi, Leo Tolstoy, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, according to Nathan Raab of Forbes magazine. For example, King's insistence that his followers engage in peaceful protests was reminiscent of Gandhi's teachings. Thoreau is the author of "Civil Disobedience," which provides a framework for people to dissent respectfully against laws they don't agree with. This is a piece King referenced in his autobiography.
Many of King's motivational sources were written into his most popular speeches. He would often quote his favorite authors and recite biblical passages to illustrate his arguments. King's methods of incorporating international literature into his addresses prove that he saw his cause as reaching further than the African-American Civil Rights Movement. King believed that civil liberties and racial equality were applicable to all of humankind, as was evidenced in his quote of John Donne's statement, "No man is an island."