On the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service, we remember the man with the inspiring voice and movement to end hatred: Martin Luther King Jr.
King, a Baptist minister, found himself not only called to serve the church, but to serve the scorned and abused Black community in his city as well as across the nation. As president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), a group organized by himself and fellow civil rights activists, King traveled the country and around the world giving lectures on nonviolent protests and civil rights for the purpose of encouraging equality and ending the evil actions of racism.
The 1960s were a pivotal moment in civil rights as King became an influential face and voice to many protests taking place during this time. He wrote books and articles sharing his ideology and was heard by a large number of Americans. He was an incredible force against segregation as well as many other social issues such as war, American multicultural poverty, and class consciousness. King called for a closer look into the injustices of America and strived to make the necessary changes happen.
Tragically, King’s mission ended all too soon in 1968 on a balcony in Memphis. The following days, weeks and months of his assasination showed how influential King was to Americans as riots erupted across the country and President Johnson declared a national day of mourning.
Today, we remember the man who spoke for those who could not and reflect on how his legacy and words live on. The movement he led is still marching, and his voice is still ringing.
The following ten quotes are only a snippet of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life.
- “The soft-minded man always fears change. He feels security in the status quo, and he has an almost morbid fear of the new. For him, the greatest pain is the pain of a new idea.”
- “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”
- “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.”
- “There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must take it because his conscience tells him it is right.”
- “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.”
- “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.”
- “I came to the conclusion that there is an existential moment in your life when you must decide to speak for yourself; nobody else can speak for you.”
- “If the cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail. Because the goal of America is freedom, abused and scorned tho’ we may be, our destiny is tied up with America’s destiny.”
- “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.”
- “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.”