More from and about
Martin Luther King, Jr.
(biographical info at bottom of page)

  

I won't have any money to leave behind.
I won't have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind.
But I just want to leave a committed life behind.

   

If one is called to be a street sweeper, one should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. One should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his or her job well.
  
  
History will have to record that the greatest tragedy during this period of social transition was not the vitriolic words and the violent actions of the bad people, but the appalling silence and indifference of the good people. Our generation will have to repent not only for the words and acts of the children of darkness, but also for the fears and apathy of the children of light.

      
I have also decided to stick with love, for I know that love is ultimately the only answer to humankind's problems.  I've seen too much hate on the faces of sheriffs in the South.  I've seen hate on the faces of too many Klansmen and too many White Citizens Councilors in the South to want to hate, myself, because every time I see it, I know that it does something to their faces and their personalities, and I say to myself that hate is too great a burden to bear.  I have decided to love.  If you are seeking the highest good, I think you can find it through love.  Those who hate do not know God, but those who love have the key that unlocks the door to the meaning of ultimate reality.
  
Like anybody, I would like to live a long life.  Longevity has its place.  But I'm not concerned about that now.  I just want to do God's will.  And He's allowed me to go up that 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. . . .
  So I'm happy tonight.  I'm not worried about anything.  I'm not fearing any man.
(from a speech the night before his assassination)
   

We stand in life at midnight; we are always on the threshold of a new dawn.

     

We must use time creatively. . . and forever realize that
the time is always ripe to do right.

   

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The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the
servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state.

   

All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance
and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.

   

Everybody can be great. . . because anybody can serve.
You don't have to have a college degree to serve. . . .
You only need a heart full of grace.  A soul generated by love.

   

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Martin Luther King, Jr., (January 15, 1929-April 4, 1968) was born Michael Luther King, Jr., but later had his name changed to Martin.  His grandfather began the family's long tenure as pastors of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, serving from 1914 to 1931; his father has served from then until the present, and from 1960 until his death Martin Luther acted as co-pastor.  Martin Luther attended segregated public schools in Georgia, graduating from high school at the age of fifteen; he received the B. A. degree in 1948 from Morehouse College, a distinguished Negro institution of Atlanta from which both his father and grandfather had been graduated.

After three years of theological study at Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania where he was elected president of a predominantly white senior class, he was awarded the B.D. in 1951.  With a fellowship won at Crozer, he enrolled in graduate studies at Boston University, completing his residence for the doctorate in 1953 and receiving the degree in 1955.  In Boston he met and married Coretta Scott, a young woman of uncommon intellectual and artistic attainments.  Two sons and two daughters were born into the family.

In 1954, Martin Luther King accepted the pastorale of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama.  Always a strong worker for civil rights for members of his race, King was, by this time, a member of the executive committee of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the leading organization of its kind in the nation.  He was ready, then, early in December, 1955, to accept the leadership of the first great Negro nonviolent demonstration of contemporary times in the United States, the bus boycott described by Gunnar Jahn in his presentation speech in honor of the laureate.  The boycott lasted 382 days.  On December 21, 1956, after the Supreme Court of the United States had declared unconstitutional the laws requiring segregation on buses, Negroes and whites rode the buses as equals.  During these days of boycott, King was arrested, his home was bombed, he was subjected to personal abuse, but at the same time he emerged as a Negro leader of the first rank.

In 1957 he was elected president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization formed to provide new leadership for the now burgeoning civil rights movement.  The ideals for this organization he took from Christianity; its operational techniques from Gandhi.  In the eleven-year period between 1957 and 1968, King traveled over six million miles and spoke over twenty-five hundred times, appearing wherever there was injustice, protest, and action; and meanwhile he wrote five books as well as numerous articles.  In these years, he led a massive protest in Birmingham, Alabama, that caught the attention of the entire world, providing what he called a coalition of conscience and inspiring his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," a manifesto of the Negro revolution; he planned the drives in Alabama for the registration of Negroes as voters; he directed the peaceful march on Washington, D.C., of 250,000 people to whom he delivered his address, "l Have a Dream," he conferred with President John F. Kennedy and campaigned for President Lyndon B. Johnson; he was arrested upwards of twenty times and assaulted at least four times; he was awarded five honorary degrees; was named Man of the Year by Time magazine in 1963; and became not only the symbolic leader of American blacks but also a world figure.

At the age of thirty-five, Martin Luther King, Jr., was the youngest man to have received the Nobel Peace Prize.  When notified of his selection, he announced that he would turn over the prize money of $54,123 to the furtherance of the civil rights movement.

On the evening of April 4, 1968, while standing on the balcony of his motel room in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was to lead a protest march in sympathy with striking garbage workers of that city, he was assassinated.

  

  

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