The Urgency of Now: Honoring Martin Luther King

The slightest attention to this holiday reveals the depth of MLK’s work, influence, and genius. Collected here are a few of my favorite examples:

Archives from the University of Michigan’s annual MLK Symposium

The King Papers Project via Stanford Univeristy

PBS on MLK: Citizen King

NPR on MLK: The Speeches of Martin Luther King Jr.

Quotes:

We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together like brothers.

“Are there times when the distractions of the day can keep us from being active? Are there issues on campus and throughout society on which we should act? As we watch news broadcasts, do we witness the silence being broken through action or are we more likely to see silence being reinforced by inaction?”

From his Loving your Enemies speech:

“I think I mentioned before that sometime ago my brother and I were driving one evening to Chattanooga, Tennessee, from Atlanta. He was driving the car. And for some reason the drivers were very discourteous that night. They didn’t dim their lights; hardly any driver that passed by dimmed his lights. And I remember very vividly, my brother A. D. looked over and in a tone of anger said: ‘I know what I’m going to do. The next car that comes along here and refuses to dim the lights, I’m going to fail to dim mine and pour them on in all of their power.’ And I looked at him right quick and said: ‘Oh no, don’t do that. There’d be too much light on this highway, and it will end up in mutual destruction for all. Somebody got to have some sense on this highway.’

“Somebody must have sense enough to dim the lights, and that is the trouble, isn’t it? That as all of the civilizations of the world move up the highway of history, so many civilizations, having looked at other civilizations that refused to dim the lights, and they decided to refuse to dim theirs. And Toynbee tells that out of the twenty-two civilizations that have risen up, all but about seven have found themselves in the
junkheap of destruction. It is because civilizations fail to have sense enough to dim the lights. And if somebody doesn’t have sense enough to turn on the dim and beautiful and powerful lights of love in this world, the whole of our civilization will be plunged into the abyss of destruction. And we will all end up destroyed because nobody had any sense on the highway of history. Somewhere somebody must have
some sense. Men must see that force begets force, hate begets hate, toughness begets toughness. And it is all a descending spiral, ultimately ending in destruction for all and everybody. Somebody must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate and the chain of evil in the universe. And you do that by love.”

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