King family calls for MLK Day voting rights protests
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife Coretta Scott King participate in march from Montgomery, AL, to the state capitol on March 19, 1965.

Though Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would have been 91 on Jan. 15, 2020, his words still have something to say about the big issues of our times. Here are some of Dr. King’s own words spoken in the ’50s and ’60s that carry relevance today.

 President Trump

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

Social action as an expression of faith

  • “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.”


  • “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.”

Black power & economics

  • Black Power is a call for the pooling of Black financial resources to achieve economic security…If Black Power means the development of this kind of strength within the Negro community, then it is a quest for basic, necessary, legitimate power.  Finally, Black Power is a psychological call to manhood. (“Where Do We Go From Here,” 1967)

The fierce urgency of now

  • “We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of ‘Now.’ This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.” (“I Have a Dream” speech, 1963)

Growing wealth gap

  • “Capitalism does not permit an even flow of economic resources. With this system, a small privileged few are rich beyond conscience, and almost all others are doomed to be poor at some level. That’s the way the system works. And since we know that the system will not change the rules, we are going to have to change the system.”

Science & spirituality

  • “Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.”

Silent “allies”

  • “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

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