Portrait of MLK Jr, by Betsy Reyneau, care of Wikimedia Commons.
I’ve been bad. I know I have. You see that “Quote of the Week” section on the blog and you think, “Hey, that Chris guy, he gives us great quotes each week…” But I’ve not been keeping up. The poems have been flowing, but each week when the time comes around to drop the weekly quotes, they seem to slip right out of my remembering. Bad Chris.
Well this week I’m getting back into the habit, and what better day to do that with than Martin Luther King Day?
MLK is a tragic and inspirational tale for us all – a man that pushed society to the brink, moved a nation with his words, and gave hope where before there had been little. He was but one face and voice in a movement crowded with them, but his is the one we most often hear echoing through the halls of time – reminding, humbling. A clergyman, activist, and leader in the stylings of Mahatma Gandhi, King was a Nobel Peace Prize recipient. Born on January 15, 1929, he energized the civil rights movement both before and after his assassination on April 4, 1968, at just 39-years-old. He was a Christian man, and a colorblind one; he opposed war, and fought to end poverty.
The man, the inspiration, the paragon of peace and advancement that was Martin Luther King Jr. was a master orator, and writer, and so today, I would like to share with you a few of his words. At the bottom you will also find a video of his legendary speech: “I have a Dream,” as well as the news broadcast from CBS’s Walter Cronkite that aired on the night of his murder. I can only imagine what it must have been like to be sitting there that night and suddenly be greeted with such a thing…even if King himself had predicted it. Even if he’d known.
So please, as this day passes you by, take some time to reflect on what this man once said, and on the messages he preached, which still ring as true today as they ever did, and ever shall, so long as man draws breath upon this earth.
“Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, 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.”
“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
“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.”
“No man can put a chain about the ankle of his fellow man without at last finding the other end fastened about his own neck.” ~Frederick Douglass
“Freedom is not worth having if it does not connote freedom to err. It passes my comprehension how human beings, be they ever so experienced and able, can delight in depriving other human beings of that precious right.” ~Mahatma Gandhi
“Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.” ~Benjamin Franklin
“There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires.” ~Nelson Mandela