Today the US honors Martin Luther King Jr., (January 15, 1929 - April 4, 1968) a prominent leader in the African American civil rights movement. Born in Atlanta, GA, educated in schools, universities, and through friendships with mentors like Howard Thurman, inspirations like Mahatma Gandhi, and youthful allies and peers like Jesse Jackson, and great artists like singer Mahalia Jackson, MLK, an eloquent writer and speaker, became a powerful force for change.
Like many of the world's greatest changemakers, he grounded his thoughts in insight, integrity, perseverance. In a 1961 speech, Martin Luther King Jr. said, in a variation of thought older than Socrates, "I believe that we shall overcome because the arc of the universe is long but it bends toward justice."
Among other favorite quotes are: "Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree."
"Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can't ride you unless your back is bent."
"Property is intended to serve life, and no matter how much we surround it with rights and respect, it has no personal being. It is part of the earth man walks on. It is not man."
"The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood."
"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."
"The time is always right to do what is right.
"The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be... the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists."
"I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality... I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word."
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."