Martin Luther King Jr., Great Quotations

Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes: MLK Day 2015 inspirations, motivations

Barnett Wright | bwright@al.com By Barnett Wright | bwright@al.com The Birmingham News
Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on January 18, 2015 at 4:15 PM, updated January 19, 2015 at 8:34 AM

The reason I can’t follow the old eye-for-an-eye philosophy is that it ends up leaving everyone blind. ‘

In honor of MLK Day 2015, here are some of the most inspirational quotes from the civil rights icon which are timely given the role race has played recently in the national discourse.

The movie “Selma” which which chronicles Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s role in the 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights march; and protests in Ferguson, Missouri and New York City have given King’s words and legacy more significance than in previous years.

King’s actual birthday is January 15 but the federal holiday is Monday.

Here are excerpts of some of Dr. King’s speeches, writings and interviews:

—  “I have a dream today.

“I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”

“I Have a Dream” speech to civil rights marchers in Washington on Aug. 28, 1963.

— “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.”

From “Letter from Birmingham Jail”

— “Let us march on segregated housing. Let us march on segregated schools, until … Let us march on poverty, until … Let us march on ballot boxes, until we send men … who will not fear to ‘do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with thy God.'”

Delivered on March 25, 1965, in Montgomery

—  “True peace is not merely the absence of tension, it is the presence of justice.”

From book “Stride Toward Freedom”

— “When evil men plot, good men must plan. When evil men burn and bomb, good men must build and bind. When evil men shout ugly words of hatred, good men must commit themselves to the glories of love. Where evil men would seek to perpetuate an unjust status quo, good men must seek to bring into being a real order of justice.”

Speech

— “The promises of the Great Society have been shot down on the battlefields of Vietnam, making the poor white and Negro bear the heaviest burden both at the front and at the home.”

April 1967 speech at U.N. Plaza in New York

— “We only assemble here because of our desire to see right exist. My friends, I want it to be known that we’re going to work with grim and bold determination to gain justice on the buses in this city.

“And we are not wrong; we are not wrong in what we are doing. If we are wrong, the Supreme Court of this nation is wrong. If we are wrong, the Constitution of the United States is wrong. If we are wrong, God Almighty is wrong. If we are wrong, Jesus of Nazareth was merely a utopian dreamer that never came down to Earth. If we are wrong, justice is a lie, love has no meaning. And we are determined here in Montgomery to work and fight until justice runs down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream . . .

A few days after Rosa Parks was arrested, King addressed the First Montgomery Improvement Association at Holt Street Baptist Church.

— “I could not in all good conscience pay a fine for an act that I did not commit and above all for brutal treatment that I did not deserve. With all due respect to you and your court, I am inwardly compelled to take this stand.

After being arrested Sept. 3, 1958 and found guilty of loitering and fined him. King responded to a judge that he would rather be jailed than pay a fine for “an act that I did not commit.”

— “And I’ll tell you, I’ve seen the lightning flash. I’ve heard the thunder roll. I felt sin-breakers dashing, trying to conquer my soul. But I heard the voice of Jesus saying still to fight on. He promised never to leave me, never to leave me alone. No, never alone. He promised never to leave me, never to leave me alone.”

Delivered at Mount Pisgah Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago on Aug. 27, 1967.

— “I often feel like saying, when I hear the question ‘People aren’t ready,’ that it’s like telling a person who is trying to swim, ‘Don’t jump in that water until you learn how to swim.’ When actually you will never learn how to swim until you get in the water.  And I think people have to have an opportunity to develop themselves and govern themselves.

Interview on March 6, 1957

— Somewhere somebody must have some sense. Men must see that force begets force, hate begets hate, toughness begets toughness. And it is all a descending spiral, ultimately ending in destruction for all and everybody. Somebody must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate and the chain of evil in the universe. And you do that by love.

“Loving Your Enemies Speech”, Nov. 7, 1957

— “The reason I can’t follow the old eye-for-an-eye philosophy is that it ends up leaving everyone blind. ‘

Address at Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, May 5, 1963

— “The ultimate test of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and moments of convenience, but where he stands in moments of challenge and moments of controversy.”

The Struggle for Racial Justice address delivered at Nobel Peace Prize Recognition Dinner, January 27, 1965

— “World peace through nonviolent means is neither absurd nor unattainable. All other methods have failed. Thus we must begin anew. Nonviolence is a good starting point.

“Those of us who believe in this method can be voices of reason, sanity, and understanding amid the voices of violence, hatred, and emotion. We can very well set a mood of peace out of which a system of peace can be built.

“Dreams of Brighter Tomorrows,” Ebony Magazine, March 1965

— “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. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.”

“Loving Your Enemies.”

Can you publish these quotes legally?

From the National Review.  

Selma still works because filmmaker Ava DuVernay was able to construct phrases that conveyed King’s oratory without using his actual words. King, Inc., is controlled by King’s surviving children and holds the copyright to King’s speeches. It has so aggressively enforced its legal rights as to make it almost impossible to use those speeches without paying a hefty fee. Film rights to King’s speeches have been licensed to Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks. DuVernay told the Washington Post, “We knew those rights are already gone, they’re with Spielberg.”

She also noted that she knew there were strings attached to the rights: “With those rights came a certain collaboration.” In other words, the King estate uses its control over the copyright to control how King is depicted. It’s perhaps no surprise that no major feature film about King has been produced before now.

Recent court cases suggest that DuVernay would have had a strong “fair use” defense for using some excerpts of King speeches. But she apparently decided it wasn’t worth the risk of litigation. As recently as 2013, that risk prevented many media outlets from using anything more than the briefest of snippets in commemorating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and the “I have a dream” speech.

 

I have a dream that one day a man will not be judged by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character.  Did you think of that when you voted for Obama?  I will vote for Dr. Carson if he runs.

 

The guy could “rock” a crowd with the rhythm and eloquence of his delivery – what a speaker!

 

New Covenant Baptist Church, Chicago, Illinois, 9 April 1967

“What I’m saying to you this morning, my friends, even if it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, go on out and sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures; sweep streets like Handel and Beethoven composed music; sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry; Sweep streets so well that all the host of heaven and earth will have to pause and say, “Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well.”

 

Dr. King left so many quotes that it would take forever to gather them all. He so eloquently and articulately quoted electrifying words of love, hope, motivation, inspiration, optimism, etc.

Dr. King was truly one of a kind. There will NEVER be another Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. …


Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s