On Monday, the United States celebrates the life and legacy of civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr, who would have turned 89 years old. The Baptist minister, Nobel Laureate and civil rights activist, who was assassinated in 1968, dedicated his life to the nonviolent struggle for racial equality in the United States.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day is celebrated on the third Monday in January each year (near his January 15 birthday) to honor his legacy in battling for civil rights. In 1983, then-President Ronald Reagan signed the bill that created a federal holiday in King’s honor.
Here are some of our favorite quotes from Dr. King. What are some of your favorites?
- “It is cheerful to God when you rejoice or laugh from the bottom of your heart.”
- “When I took up the cross I recognized it’s meaning. The cross is something that you bear, and ultimately, that you die on.”
- “I just want to do God’s will. And he’s allowed me to go to the mountain. 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.”
On Racism & Violence
- “There are two types of laws: there are just laws and there are unjust laws… What is the difference between the two? … An unjust law is a man-made code that is out of harmony with the moral law.”
- “The ultimate test of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and moments of convenience, but where he stands in moments of challenge and moments of controversy.”
- “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.”
- “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
On Truth, Love & Peace
- “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”
- “True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.”
- “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”