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Select Quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

(From CopyLine archives)

“I’m tired of shootings! I’m tired of clubs! I’m tired of war! I’m not going to use violence, no matter who says so!”

Excerpts from “I Have a Dream” Speech

“In a sense we have come to our nation’s capitol to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead, of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check; a check which has come back marked ‘insufficient funds.’ But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check – a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice…”

“We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, ‘When will you be satisfied. ‘ We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels  of the highways and hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

“And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom right from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!…When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village 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!’ ”

Before a cheering crowd in Memphis, Tenn., the night before his death

“It really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop. I’ve seen the promise land. I might not get there with you, but we, as a people, will get to the promise land.”

Accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964

“I accept this award in behalf of a civil rights movement which is moving with determination and a majestic scorn for risk and danger to establish a reign of freedom and a rule of justice.”

Letter from Birmingham Jail

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

In “Where Do We Go From Here?: Chaos Or Community”

“A so-called limited war will leave little more than a calamitious legacy of human suffering, political turmoil and spiritual disillusionment. A World War will leave only smoldering ashes as mute testimony of a human race whose folly led inexorably to ultimate death. If modern man continues to flirt unhesitatingly with war, he will transform his earthly habitat into an inferno such as even the mind of Dante could not imagine. Therefore, Isuggest that the philosophy and strategy of nonviolence become immediately a subject for study and for serious experimentation in every field of human conflict, by no means excluding the relations between nations. It is, after all, nation-states which make war, which have produced the weapons that threaten the survival of mankind and which are both genocidal and suicidal in character…” 


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