Martin Luther King, Jr. Quotes on Man (26 Quotes)



    If a man is called to be a streetsweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven played music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great streetsweeper who did his job well.

    Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.

    The means by which we live have outdistanced the ends for which we live. Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.

    The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: "If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?" But... the good Samaritan reversed the question: "If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?"


    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.

    Whatever your life's work is, do it well. A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better.



    There was a time when the church was very powerful. It was during that period when the early Christians rejoiced when they were deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town the power structure got disturbed and immediately sought to convict them for being 'disturbers of the peace' and 'outside agitators.' But they went on with the conviction that they were 'a colony of heaven,' and had to obey God rather than man. They were small in number but big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be 'astronomically intimidated.' They brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contest.

    It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that's pretty important.

    Was not Jesus an extremist for love 'Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, pray for them that despitefully use you.' Was not Amos an extremist for justice 'Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.' Was not Paul an extremist for the gospel of Jesus Christ 'I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.' Was not Martin Luther an extremist 'Here I stand I can do none other so help me God.' Was not John Bunyan an extremist 'I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience.' Was not Abraham Lincoln an extremist 'This nation cannot survive half slave and half free.' Was not Thomas Jefferson an extremist 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.' So the question is not whether we will be extremist but what kind of extremist will we be. Will we be extremists for hate or will we be extremists for love Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or will we be extremists for the cause of justice In that dramatic scene on Calvary's hill, three men were crucified. We must not forget that all three were crucified for the same crime the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thusly fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment.

    My parents would always tell me that I should not hate the white man, but that it was my duty as a Christian to love him.

    So I'm happy tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.

    Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.

    The ultimate solution to the race problem lies in the willingness of men to obey the unenforceable.

    We will speed the day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing ... 'Free at last, Free at last, Thank God Almighty, I'm free at last.'

    I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed 'We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.'

    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.

    I submit to you that if a man hasn't discovered something that he will die for, he isn't fit to live.

    And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every tenement and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, 'Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.'



    America experiences a new birth of freedom in her sons and daughters she incarnates the spirit of her martyred chief. Their loyalty is repledged their devotion renewed to the work He left unfinished. My heart throbs anew in the hope that inspired by the example of Lincoln, imbued with the spirit of Christ, they will cast down the last barrier to perfect freedom. And I with my brother of blackest hue possessing at last my rightful heritage and holding my head erect, may stand beside the Saxon a Negro and yet a man.

    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.

    Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.


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