Born in January of 1929, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would have turned 90 on his birthday this year. Amazingly in retrospect, he only lived to be 39 years old.
Yet in that short lifetime, Dr. King was imbued with a great amount of wisdom when it came to looking at and understanding the nature of things and situations, which he expressed in the numerous quotes he left behind.
To honor the man this year, we run a series of those quotes, many of which are well known – his “greatest hits” so to speak – but also quotes from Dr. King that may be more obscure, but are deeply profound on both a philosophical and commonsense level.
Common sense, like this one: – “It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important.”
The following quotes truly illustrate the great measure of the man whose birthday America nationally honors today. It’s nice to revisit them, along with the accompanying interesting photos we found hither and yon of one of history’s greatest leaders.
Happy Birthday in Heaven, Dr. King!
Quotes from the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.:
– Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
– The time is always right to do the right thing.
– Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
– I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed. We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.
– 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.
– Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
– I am not interested in power for power’s sake, but I am interested in power that is moral, that is right and that is good.
– A right delayed is a right denied.
– We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now.
– Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
– There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.
– If physical death is the price that I must pay to free my white brothers and sisters from a permanent death of the spirit, then nothing can be more redemptive.
– I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
– Cowardice asks the question, “Is it safe?” Expediency asks the question, “Is it politic?” Vanity asks the question, “Is it popular?” But conscience asks the question, “Is it right?” There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because one’s conscience tells one that it is right.
– A man can’t ride your back unless it’s bent.
– Let no man pull you so low as to hate him.
– That old law about “an eye for an eye” leaves everybody blind.
– Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.
– Intelligence plus character, that is the goal of true education.
– We must come to see that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience.
– A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus, but a molder of consensus.
– I have decided to stick to love…hate is too great a burden to bear.
– Everybody can be great because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.
– Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a constant attitude.
– Those who are not looking for happiness are the most likely to find it, because those who are searching forget that the surest way to be happy is to seek happiness for others.
– 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.
– We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.
– We must live together as brothers or perish together as fools.
– Science investigates; religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge, which is power; religion gives man wisdom, which is control. Science deals mainly with facts; religion deals mainly with values. The two are not rivals.
– 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.
– We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.
– No person has the right to rain on your dreams.
– Voting is the foundation stone for political action.
– What good does it do to sit at the counter when you cannot afford a hamburger?
– Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.
– I was not afraid of the words of the violent, but of the silence of the honest.
– If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.
– In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
– Perhaps the worst sin in life is knowing right and not doing it.
– Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness. We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love.
– The Negro needs the white man to free him from his fears. The white man needs the Negro to free him from his guilt.
– To be a Negro in America is to hope against hope.
– We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.
– Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom.
– Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever.
– The means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek.
– A riot is the language of the unheard.
– There comes a time when silence is betrayal.
– Without justice, there can be no peace.
– One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.
– Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.
– Everything that we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see.
– Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest.
– A social movement that only moves people is merely a revolt. A movement that changes both people and institutions is a revolution.
– When people get caught up with that which is right and they are willing to sacrifice for it, there is no stopping point short of victory.
– This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.
– Be the peace you wish to see in the world!
– Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be.
– Whatever my doubts, however heavy the burden, I feel that I must accept the task of helping to make this nation and this world a better place to live in – for all men, Black and white alike.
– I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go to the mountain. And I’ve looked over, and I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the Promised Land!
– Free at last, free at last. Thank God almighty, we are free at last.
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