Though Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered over 50 years ago, his words still have something to say about the big issues of our times. Here are some of Dr. King’s own words that carry relevance in 2022.

Republican voter suppression tactics

  • “All we say to America is, ‘Be true to what you said on paper.’ If I lived in China or even Russia, or any totalitarian country, maybe I could understand the denial of certain basic First Amendment privileges, because they hadn’t committed themselves to that over there. But somewhere I read of the freedom of assembly. Somewhere I read of the freedom of speech. Somewhere I read of the freedom of the press. Somewhere I read that the greatness of America is the right to protest for right.” (“I’ve Been to the Mountain Top,” Memphis, April 3, 1968)

Those who attack critical race theory

  • “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
  • “Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.”

Social action as an expression of faith

  • “The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict.
  • 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.”

Progress

  • “We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor, it must be demanded by the oppressed.” (Letter From a Birmingham Jail, 1963)
  • “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.”
  • “The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood.”

Black Power & economics

  • “Black Power, in its broad and positive meaning, is a call to Black people to amass the political and economic strength to achieve their legitimate goals…The plantation and the ghetto were created by those who had power both to confine those who had no power and to perpetuate their powerlessness.  The problem of transforming the ghetto is, therefore, a problem of power – a confrontation between the forces of power demanding change and the forces of power dedicated to preserving the status quo.”  (“Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community,” 1967).
  • 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, Washington D.C., Aug. 28, 1963)
  • “The time is always right to do what is right.” (Oberlin College commencement speech, 1965)

Growing wealth gap

  • “The solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by the now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income.” (“Where Do We Go From Here,” 1967)
  • “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.”

Globally marginalized groups

  • “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”
  • “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” (Letter From a Birmingham Jail, 1963)

Importance of science & spirituality

  • “Science investigates; religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge, which is power; religion gives man wisdom, which is control. Science deals mainly with facts; religion deals mainly with values. The two are not rivals.” (“A Tough Mind and a Tender Heart,” Aug. 30, 1959)
  • “Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.”

Democrats, others who refuse to protect voting rights

  • “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
  • “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”

MLK on Jan. 6 insurrectionists

Here are some words of Dr. King that seem to speak to the movement the led to the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol Building, as well as the leaders and participants of that violent insurrection. Some of MLK’s words here also speak to how he may have called us to respond to the attacks on democracy and all citizens’ right to have their votes cast and counted.

  • “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
  • “Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”
  • “Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.”
  • “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”
  • “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.” (Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, Oslo, Norway, 1964)
  • “We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now because I’ve been to the mountaintop…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.” (“I’ve Been to The Mountain Top,” Memphis, April 3, 1968)

All quotes not attributed to a source found at www.brainyquote.com