On Monday, January 18, 2021 the US celebrates the birth of Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr. was an American Baptist minister and activist who became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the civil rights movement from 1955 until his assassination in 1968.
Although his life ended, the work that he had accomplished changed the nation. King will be remembered not only for his commitment to the cause of equality for African Americans but also for his profound speeches that moved so many.
In reading some of MLK’s quotes, I feel inspired and enlivened. Today, I would like to share excerpts from his “I Have a Dream” speech and a few of his famous quotes My reason is to inspire and enliven you to stand up for what you believe in and follow your dreams. Too often, we become discouraged by what others may say or how they react to our ideas. Or we sabotage ourselves with negative self-talk.
Do not let others or your inner being talk you out of what is meant for you. What you truly believe in. Affirm everyday that you can and you will succeed. You are your own coach. Of course, if you are like me, I thrive on reading positive, encouraging and enlightening quotes, phrases, books, lectures, teachings and writings. I focus on that. It nourishes me. It supports me. It strengthens my resolve and commitment to continue on. We can all benefit from that. It may not be easy at times. But it is worth it. So Dream on!
King’s celebrated “I Have a Dream” speech was delivered on August 28, 1963 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, in which he called for civil and economic rights and an end to racism in the United States.
“So even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.
When we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: Free at last. Free at last. Thank God almighty, we are free at last.”
And througout his life, the words of Martin Luther King Jr. resonated and inspired others to follow their dreams and stand up for what they believed in. He was so gifted as a communicator and was able to positively evoke activism and right action in those that heard him speak. A few of his quotes:
“We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right.”
“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.”
“The quality, not the longevity, of one’s life is what is important.”
“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.”
“Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.”
“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.”
“No person has the right to rain on your dreams.”
“You will change your mind; You will change your looks; You will change your smile, laugh, and ways but no matter what you change, you will always be you.”
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”
“Not everybody can be famous but everybody can be great because greatness is determined by service. You only need a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love.”
“We cannot walk alone.”
“People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.”
“World peace through nonviolent means is neither absurd nor unattainable. All other methods have failed. Thus we must begin anew. Nonviolence is a good starting point. Those of us who believe in this method can be voices of reason, sanity, and understanding amid the voices of violence, hatred, and emotion. We can very well set a mood of peace out of which a system of peace can be built.”
“I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits.”
“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
Martin Luther King Jr. truly left his mark on society and inspired the human race to strive for harmony among all people. His tragic death shocked the nation, but his words and his dedication to equality continue to inspire all generations.
May his thoughts and words and life inspire you to be a Better You.
With Love and Light and a Dream,