Martin Luther King Jr. will forever be honored and remembered as one of the best spokesman and leader of the Civil Rights movement in America. He’s an intelligent philosopher, thinker, and theologian. He challenged the people to end racial inequality and injustice through non-violent methods. He believed in a better world and we want to carry out his dreams of freedom and equality.
He was assassinated by James Earl Ray in 1968 prompting riots in many US cities. King’s birthday (January 15) was soon petitioned to be a national holiday and was signed to be a federal holiday by President Ronald Reagan. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is observed every third Monday of January.
He may be an American, but his ideals and vision are universal, and the lessons he imparted should resonate with all human beings.
The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.” (1947)
This quote is a part of a piece he wrote entitled The Purpose of Education that he made for Maroon Tiger, the Morehouse College campus newspaper.
King reiterates that education isn’t made to “equip people with proper instruments of exploitation so that they can forever trample over the masses” but education should enable man to think and to become more efficient in achieving their goals in life.
On love and truth
“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.” (1964)
King was awarded a Nobel Prize for Peace and said these words during his acceptance speech. In his fight against racial inequality, he’s encouraging everyone to fight a non-violent fight because that is the only way people will live together in peace in the future and transform all the conflict into a “psalm of brotherhood.”
On love and peace
“Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.” (1964)
His acceptance speech of the Nobel Prize for Peace had a lot of quoted gems in it. King’s belief that love is the solution and, if planted, could be the root for a peaceful world is infectious and true.
He further says “It is not enough to say we must not wage war. It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it.”
“The tension in this city is not between white people and Negro people. The tension is at bottom between justice and injustice, between the forces of light and the forces of darkness.” (1957)
In his speech Non-violence and Racial Justice, King urges people to “cut the chain of hate” and tells them that “at the center of nonviolence stands the principle of love.” King sought to win opponents over and those whose views on racial equality are clouded, he sought to win their friendship and understanding.
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” (1963)
Decades after he penned these words as part of a letter he wrote from Birmingham Jail, it still rings true. If we at all expect justice to pave our streets with gold, then we must do away with even the littlest of injustices that will render the gold impure.
On science and religion
“Science investigates; religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge, which is power; religion gives man wisdom, which is control. Science deals mainly with facts; religion deals mainly with values. The two are not rivals.” (1959)
One of his sermons is entitled “A Tough Mind and a Tender Heart” (which could also be found in his book Strength to Love), and in it he criticizes those who believe that there is a divide between science and religion. Science and religion work hand in hand for us to understand how we relate to each other.
On moving forward
“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.” (1967)
King urges everybody, but mostly the youth, to refrain from being idle. He urges them to move forward and fight for justice and fight for their rights actively through peaceful ways.
On loving your enemies
“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.” (1957)
On his book Strength to Love, King reiterates once again his belief on the whole idea and philosophy on love. The quote above also appeared in a 1957 sermon he gave on loving your enemies. Why love? Because it’s the only force that has redemptive powers.
What’s your favorite Martin Luther King quote? Share it with us!