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Letter sent on Jan 16

12 Powerful Quotes from MLK, Jr.

Plus 7 resources for those who want to go deeper

Photo by Jacob Creswick

I wrote a long story about MLK, Jr. but I deleted it.

Instead, here are 12 of my favorite quotes from Martin Luther King, Jr. followed by 7 links to recommended resources for those who want to go deeper.

This is the unusual thing about nonviolence — nobody is defeated, everybody shares in the victory.
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
Let me say finally that I oppose the war in Vietnam because I love America. I speak out against this war, not in anger, but with anxiety and sorrow in my heart, and, above all, with a passionate desire to see our beloved country stand as the moral example of the world.
We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.
True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar.
Science investigates, religion interprets.
In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.
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.
Now, I’ve chosen to preach about the war in Vietnam because I agree with Dante, that the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintain their neutrality. There comes a time when silence becomes betrayal.
And history has proven over and over again that unmerited suffering is redemptive.
We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.

MLK’s life and legacy are a complicated topic.

If you’re interested in going deeper, here are seven of our recommended resources:

1. Letter from Birmingham Jail

2. Eulogy for Martyred Children

3. Complete Transcript of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Assassination Conspiracy Trial

4. The Truth About Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” Speech

5. The Truth About Martin Luther King, Jr.

6. Civil Rights in a Moral Vacuum by Thomas Sowell

7. The actual letter someone in the FBI sent to MLK attempting to blackmail him into killing himself:


We live in a dangerous world. We should dream and act to improve it, but we should not forget that good intentions aren’t enough to protect ourselves and those we care about. There are tradeoffs for our words, and freedom of speech is something that is earned and must be defended.

If we say certain things, we will mark ourselves as a target.

There are always fearful, angry people, and mobs who are searching for those targets (Scapegoats).

“Everywhere and always, when human beings either cannot or dare not take their anger out on the thing that has caused it, they unconsciously search for substitutes, and more often than not they find them.” –Rene Girard

But… Girard also reminds us that:

“We’re witnessing the birth of an individual capable of escaping the fatal destiny of collective violence.”

We can merely witness, or we can commit ourselves to aiding in those births.

We can decide once and for all that we will not participate in the sacrifice and scapegoating of our best and brightest.

We can decide to make the world a more voluntary place where real diversity of thought, word, and deed are allowed.