Martin Luther King, Jr.

What can be said about the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., that hasn't been
said already?  Inspiring, motivational, challenging, caring, full of hope and
courage--he was a great man who stood up in a era that was in desperate need
of a spokesman for a people in desperate need of an effective advocate.  You had
a dream, Mr. King, and while that dream has not yet come true, we're closer now
to the fulfillment of the dream than we ever have been before.  While we still
have a ways to go, we're on a path that you helped to point out, and we
thank you for your guidance and courage and strength.

 thinkers home


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.

Compassion and nonviolence help us to see the enemy's point of view, to hear their questions, to know their assessment of ourselves.  For from their point of view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers and sisters who are called the opposition.
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)

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


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


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


We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope.
If a man is called to be a streetsweeper, he should sweep streets
even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music,
or Shakespeare wrote poetry.  He should sweep streets so well
that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say,
here lived a great streetsweeper who did his job well.

The ultimate measure of people is not where they stand in moments
of comfort and convenience, but where they stand
at times of challenge and controversy.


When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every hamlet,
from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day
when all of God's children, black people and white people,
Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands
and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual,
"Free at last!  Free at last!  Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"



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.


I refuse to accept the idea that the "isness" of people's present nature makes them
morally incapable of reaching up for the "oughtness" that forever confronts them.


I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation
must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of nuclear destruction.
I believe that the unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality.

When our days become dreary with low-hovering clouds
and our nights become darker than a thousand midnights,
let us remember that there is a great benign Power
in the universe whose name is God, and he is able to make
a way out of no way, and transform dark yesterdays
into bright tomorrows.  This is our hope for becoming better people.
This is our mandate for seeking to make a better world.

Courage and cowardice are antithetical.
Courage is an inner resolution to go forward in spite of obstacles and frightening situations;
cowardice is a submissive surrender to circumstance.
Courage breeds courageous self-affirmation; cowardice produces destructive self-abnegation.
Courage faces fear and thereby masters it; cowardice represses fear and is thereby mastered by it.
Courageous people never lose the zest for living even though their life situation is zestless;
cowardly people, overwhelmed by the uncertainties of life lose the will to live.
We must constantly build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear.


Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. 
We have guided missiles and misguided people.


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.

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

That old law about "an eye for an eye" leaves everybody blind.


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