Martin Luther King, murdered 50 years ago today, was a Baptist minister and one of the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement that challenged the oppression of black people in the United States. A spellbinding orator, his courage and vision helped galvanise resistance to systematic and brutal discrimination. But his message throughout was one of love, not hate – he preached non-violence and understanding alongside confrontation and challenge.
He was assassinated by James Earl Ray on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee.
Here are 12 quotes from Martin Luther King.
1. I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.
2. Let no man pull you so low as to hate him.
3. There will come a time, in many instances, when the person who hates you most, the person who has misused you most, the person who has gossiped about you most, the person who has spread false rumors about you most, there will come a time when you will have an opportunity to defeat that person. It might be in terms of a recommendation for a job; it might be in terms of helping that person to make some move in life. That's the time you must do it. That is the meaning of love.
4. I want to tell you this evening that it is not enough for us to talk about love, love is one of the pivotal points of the Christian faith. There is another side called justice. And justice is really love in calculation. Justice is love correcting that which revolts against love.
5. Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.
6. Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.
7. Cowardice asks the question – is it safe? Expediency asks the question – is it politic? Vanity asks the question – is it popular? But conscience asks the question – is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular; but one must take it because it is right.
8. Any religion that professes to be concerned about the souls of men and is not concerned about the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them and the social conditions that cripple them is a spiritually moribund religion awaiting burial.
9. Like anybody, I would like to have a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will . [In his last sermon, the night before he was killed.]
10. When I took up the cross I recognised its meaning. The cross is something that you bear, and ultimately, that you die on.
11. God is able to give you the power to endure that which cannot be changed... Why be anxious? Come what may, God is able.
12. The cross may mean the death of your popularity. It may mean the death of your bridge to the White House. It may mean the death of a foundation grant. It may cut your budget down a little, but take up your cross and just bear it.