Martin Luther King, Jr. elevated the discussion of offering the same civil rights to all Americans at a dark time in our nation’s history. Years ago I heard someone say that King was instrumental to helping blacks. Which is wrong on so many levels. King helped all Americans by holding up the mirror to those who practiced open discrimination in direct contradiction of our laws. If any member of our society is oppressed, we are ALL oppressed.
As an outspoken activist in the civil rights movement, King challenged the premise that all men are created equal. Although this is one of the most famous lines in the Declaration of Independence, King saw that some men and women were treated very differently under the laws of our nation and many states. Others in the civil rights movement shared King’s passion for equality, but King stood out for his advocacy of non-violent means to achieve those ends. After visiting the birthplace of Indian leader Mohandas Ganhdi, King stated “I am more convinced than ever before that the method of nonviolent resistance is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for justice and human dignity.”
So what did King know of oppression? Although King held firm on his non-violent stance, he did not always receive the same courtesy from his detractors. Instead of fighting back with the use of his fists or through inciting mob actions, King drew courage from his own convictions.
And he needed it. His house was bombed. He was stabbed. He was hit with a brick. He was arrested multiple times. He was accused of being a Communist. His plane received bomb threats. His family was threatened. And in 1968, he was gunned down by an assassin.
The King legacy is not only one of a courageous leader, but also one that leaves a wealth of wisdom to a better way to thinking and living today. Here are some of my favorite Martin Luther King, Jr. quotations:
On LIFE: The quality, not the longevity, of one’s life is what is important.
On PRAYER: To be a Christian without praying is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.
On COMMUNITY: He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it.
On LEADERSHIP: A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.
On FORGIVENESS/LOVE: He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.
On HAPPINESS: Those who are not looking for happiness are the most likely to find it, because those who are searching forget that the surest way to be happy is to seek happiness for others.
On COURAGE OF CONVICTION: A man who won’t die for something is not fit to live.
What do you think the world would look like if the citizens of the globe practiced just half of those things?