It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly 55 years since Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have A Dream” speech in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial. Sadly, he was never able to see that dream fulfilled. But his tenacity, love, and message of peace helped bridge the racial divide, break through unrelenting hate and bigotry, and set the United States on a path towards ethnic equality and redemption.
The lessons he taught in the books he wrote and the speeches he gave affect the heart of every living being, across every nationality, race, and generation. What a tragedy that half a century later, we’ve elected our nation’s first African-American President, but are somehow seeing racial tensions rise, spiraling into an abyss that brings us nearly full circle. Sadly, it seems that all of Dr. King’s lessons have been forgotten. Lest we forget everything what the great Reverend Doctor stood for, here are some quotes from his books that every person should read, meditate on, and implement in their daily lives.
1. “Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.”
2. “Violence brings only temporary victories; violence, by creating many more social problems than it solves, never brings permanent peace.”
3. “On some positions, cowardice asks the question, is it expedient? And then expedience comes along and asks the question, is it politic? Vanity asks the question, is it popular? 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 he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.”
4. “Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”
5. “The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood.”
6. “To have serpentlike qualities devoid of dovelike qualities is to be passionless, mean, and selfish. To have dovelike without serpentlike qualities is to be sentimental, anemic, and aimless. We must combine strongly marked antitheses.”
7. The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of convenience, but where he stands in moments of challenge, moments of great crisis and controversy.”
8. “Bitterness has not the capacity to make the distinction between some and all. When some members of the dominant group, particularly those in power, are racist in attitude and practice, bitterness accuses the whole group.”
9. “Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half-truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood.”
10. “Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear-drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.”
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