Martin Luther King Quotes

Martin Luther King, Jr, 1929 – 1968

Born: 15 January 1929, Atlanta, Georgia
Died: 4 April 1968, Memphis, Tennessee

Michael King, Jr was born to Michael and Alberta King, but when the family visited Europe in 1934 the father was moved by the legacy of Martin Luther that both father and son changed their names. King attended Booker T. Washington School, skipping ninth grade and entered Morehouse College at age fifteen instead of returning for his senior year. He earned a B.A. in sociology at Morehouse, a Bachelor of Divinity from Crozer Theological Seminary at Chester, Pennsylvania in 1951, and a Doctor of Philosophy from Boston University in 1955. He married Coretta Scott in 1953, and became pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church at Montgomery, Alabama in 1954. The next year, there were two cases of black women refusing to give up their seats on the bus for whites. The committee investigating the first incident decided to wait for a better case, but when Rosa Parks sat her ground in December King organized the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The boycott lasted just over a year, King’s house was bombed, but a federal court ordered the end of racial segregation on the buses. In 1957 King was among the founders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which he led until his death. He played a critical part in the Birmingham, Alabama campaign starting in 1960, and was one of the leaders of the March on Washington in August of 1963; a quarter of a million attended the event, the largest gathering at Washington City to that point, and King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech. King was awarded the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize, the youngest recipient ever, he received over fifty honorary degrees, and numerous other honors. Although primarily focused on racial equality, King advocated for an increase in the minimum wage and an end to the Viet Nam war. Late in March of 1968 King went to Memphis, Tennessee to support black public works employees who were striking for equal treatment, delivering his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech. The next day, 4 April 1968, he was shot while standing on the balcony of his hotel room. Riots broke out in over a hundred cities in protest, James Earl Ray was arrested at London Heathrow Airport two months later. Both the Lutheran and Episcopal churches list him in their calendars as a martyr, 730 cities have named streets after him, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977 by Jimmy Carter, in 1986 Congress established Martin Luther King, Jr Day as a national holiday, and a memorial has been started on the National Mall.

Martin Luther King, Jr quotes:

A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.
    Martin Luther King, Jr

A genuine revolution of values means, in the final analysis, that our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies.
    Martin Luther King, Jr – “Beyond Vietnam” speech for Clergy and Laity Concerned, New York City (4 April 1967)

A good many observers have remarked that if equality could come at once the Negro would not be ready for it. I submit that the white American is even more unprepared.
    Martin Luther King, Jr – Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? (1967)

A man can’t ride your back unless it’s bent.
    Martin Luther King, Jr

A nation or civilization that continues to produce softminded men purchases its own spiritual death on the installment plan.
    Martin Luther King, Jr – Strength to Love (1963)

A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.
    Martin Luther King, Jr – “Beyond Vietnam” speech for Clergy and Laity Concerned, New York City (4 April 1967)

A riot is at bottom the language of the unheard.
    Martin Luther King, Jr – Speech at Birmingham, Alabama (31 December 1963)

All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality.
    Martin Luther King, Jr

Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better.
    Martin Luther King, Jr

An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.
    Martin Luther King, Jr

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.
    Martin Luther King, Jr

As long as the mind is enslaved, the body can never be free.
    Martin Luther King, Jr – “Where Do We Go From Here?” (16 August 1967)

Be concerned about your brother. You may not be on strike. But either we go up together, or we go down together.
    Martin Luther King, Jr – “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” (3 April 1968)

Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent.
    Martin Luther King, Jr

Communism forgets that life is individual. Capitalism forgets that life is social, and the kingdom of brotherhood is found neither in the thesis of communism nor the antithesis of capitalism but in a higher synthesis. It is found in a higher synthesis that combines the truths of both.
    Martin Luther King, Jr – “Where Do We Go From Here?” (16 August 1967)

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