Black American civil rights leader Martin Luther King (1929 - 1968) addresses crowds during the March On Washington at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC, where he gave his 'I Have A Dream' speech.

Editorial: King’s words speak to all

Today we honor the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., remembered as a great civil rights leader who championed nonviolent resistance in the face of oppression. Some mistakenly see him as a role model only for minorities. He was, rather, a powerful voice for social justice, courage and peace that all Americans should heed.

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speeches remain relevant. Some excerpts:

“Hate is too big of a burden to bear. I have decided to love.”

“… We must join the war against poverty and believe in the dignity of all work. What makes a job menial? I’m tired of this stuff about menial labor. What makes it menial is that we don’t pay folk anything. Give somebody a job and pay them some money so they can live and educate their children and buy a home and have the basic necessities of life. And no matter what the job is, it takes on dignity.”

“I’m concerned about white poverty as much as I’m concerned about Negro poverty.”

“Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.”

“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

“We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.”

“Without love, there is no reason to know anyone, for love will in the end connect us to our neighbors, our children and our hearts.”

“Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.”

“Everything that we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see.”

“You are not only responsible for what you say, but also for what you do not say.”

“Unity has never meant uniformity.”

“The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just.”

“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

“Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.”

“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.”

“Wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows.”

“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.”

“Every society has its protectors of status quo and its fraternities of the indifferent who are notorious for sleeping through revolutions. Today, our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change.”

“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.”

“We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”

“We shall overcome.”

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Digital version of The Madison Record – Nov. 29, 2023

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