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During a time of civil unrest and social injustice, it was Baptist minister and activist Martin Luther King Jr. who rose to the occasion. It was not easy spreading his message of love and nonviolence. Martin Luther, on the road towards peace, made powerful enemies. This all ended with his assassination on the evening of April 4, 1968 – right before he was about to lead a protest.
But his dream will never fade – for those who believe in his values are determined to turn that dream into reality. Here are a few facts about the youngest Nobel peace prize recipient, Martin Luther King Jr..
Martin Luther King Jr.: Early Life and Years
Born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia, Martin Luther King Jr. was in fact, originally named Michael King. His father also bore the same name, but he changed his – and his son’s name – in 1934, after they attended the 5th Baptist World Alliance Congress in Berlin. The name Martin Luther was chosen in honor of the German reformer, who was an influential figure in the Protestant Reformation.
Early on in life, King would witness his father’s brave acts against segregation. He also experienced the loneliness and humiliation of being treated unfairly due to skin color. But as he was a natural orator and public speaker, he would go on to achieve great things in school.
It was the Montgomery bus boycott though, that put Martin Luther King Jr. on the nation’s map. After Claudette Colvin (March 1955) and Rosa Parks (December 1955) refused to give up their seats on the bus, King led a boycott that lasted 385 days. Unfortunately, the situation became so tense that his house was bombed.
Martin Luther King Jr. was inspired by Mohandas Gandhi, who always advocated for love and non-violence. Despite his arrests and the hostility he faced, he continued his peaceful protests and appealed to the people with his natural talent for public speaking.
However, by the late 1960’s, the civil rights movement have begun to break. This is in part due to activists like Stokely Carmichael, who rejected King’s ideals of peaceful integration, in favor of African American self-reliance and self-defence.
King was assassinated on April 4, 1968 by escaped white convict James Earl Ray on the balcony of his motel room in Memphis, Tennessee. This was just weeks before a planned interracial “Poor People’s March” to be held in Washington.
The Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.
Aside from being the youngest Nobel peace prize recipient at the age of 35, Martin Luther donated the prize money to further the civil rights movement. His nonviolent protests and speeches on equality live on to this day.
During their nonviolent campaigns against racism, he and his supporters were met with violence and brutality. But they did not respond in hate. The year after his momentous “I have a dream” speech, then President Lyndon B. Johnson passed a law prohibiting racial discrimination.
Doing what is right is never easy. Often, it is easier to turn the other cheek and walk away. But Martin Luther encourages all of us to live for one another. Here are some of the most famous Martin Luther King Jr. quotes to inspire you towards leadership and greatness.
Inspirational Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes
“Let no man pull you so low as to hate him.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
“There comes a time when silence is betrayal.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
“Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
“No one really knows why they are alive until they know what they’d die for.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
“Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
“Only in the darkness can you see the stars.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy to a friend.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
“The time is always right to do the right thing.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
“There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
“We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there ‘is’ such a thing as being too late.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
“Not everybody can be famous but everybody can be great, because greatness is determined by service.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
“No work is insignificant. All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
“The day we see the truth and cease to speak is the day we begin to die.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
“A right delayed is a right denied.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
“Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
“One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
“Today, our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
“Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
“Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
“The question is not if we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. The nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
“The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
“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.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way” – Martin Luther King Jr.
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?” – Martin Luther King Jr.
“No person has the right to rain on your dreams.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
“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.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
“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.” – Martin Luther King Jr.