Sunday, January 16, 2011

Wisdom of Martin Luther King, Jr.

It seems that these days, people on nearly all sides of the political and social spectrum look to Martin Luther King Jr. with respect. As most people know, he was instrumental in the Civil Rights Movement and his advocacy of non-violent resistance for the betterment of society. Thanks in large part to him, Rosa Parks and others, minorities now have a greater voice, and his dream of racial equality has made large strides. In some ways, the dream has a long way to go, but it has made great progress since the 1950s and 60s.

One thing I just learned that I find interesting is that he was born Michael King, Jr. However, when he and his family visited Germany, they were impressed with the legacy of Martin Luther, and the senior Michael King changed both his own and his son's names to Martin Luther King. Best known for his "I Have a Dream" speech, the younger Martin Luther King became an ordained Baptist minister, and he became the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to achieve racial equality. He was assassinated on April 4, 1968, by James Earl Ray while staying at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, TN. That motel is now the National Civil Rights Museum, in his honor. Rev. King was only 39 years old. Mr. Ray spent the rest of his life in prison (after being arrested at London's Heathrow Airport).

Sources: Wikipedia articles for Martin Luther King, Jr. and his assassination

After his death, his widow Coretta Scott King took up the banner and continued the fight for racial equality, as well as joining the Women's Movement. His four children also picked up the banner and continued the fight. His niece Alveda King has done much for the fight for racial equality, focusing particularly on defending the youngest and most defenseless, those who have not yet been born. She also has a Twitter account, which I highly recommend following.

I thought it would be good to include some quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (thus the title of this post)...
"Faith is taking the first step, even when you don't see the whole staircase."

"Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it."

"I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law."

"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."

"Our lives begin and end the day we become silent about things that matter."

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

"Now, I say to you today my friends, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. 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.'"

"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. I'm so happy tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man." [He said this the day before he reached the promised land, shot to heaven by an assassin's bullet.]

"Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity."

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

"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."

"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."
Truly a wise man.

(The picture is of Martin and Coretta King in 1964. I got it from the Wikipedia article on Coretta Scott King, and according to Wikipedia, it is in the public domain.)

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