Martin Luther King Jr. who was assassinated five decades ago left some words that America and the world still ponder upon.
Despite his demise his words still carry power for activists, politicians, journalists and everyday Americans, even though they are consistently misattributed.
King wrote five books and delivered about 450 speeches a year, according to CNN. People have tweeted his words and tattooed them on their bodies. After 50 years since he died, here are 15 of his quotes that still resonate in today’s America:
“Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” “Letter from Birmingham City Jail,” 1963
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” Sermons from his book Strength to Love, 1963
“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.” From his book Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?, 1967
“The true neighbor will risk his position, his prestige and even his life for the welfare of others.” Strength to Love, 1963
“Many white Americans of good will have never connected bigotry with economic exploitation. They have deplored prejudice but tolerated or ignored economic injustice.” From his book Why We Can’t Wait, 1964
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” 1963
“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” Strength to Love, 1963
“We’ve been in the mountain of war. We’ve been in the mountain of violence. We’ve been in the mountain of hatred long enough. It is necessary to move on now, but only by moving out of this mountain can we move to the promised land of justice and brotherhood and the Kingdom of God. It all boils down to the fact that we must never allow ourselves to become satisfied with unattained goals. We must always maintain a kind of divine discontent.” Sermon at Temple Israel of Hollywood, 1965
“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.” Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, 1964
“So we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools.” “Beyond Vietnam” speech, 1967
“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.” Strength to Love, 1963
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” “I Have a Dream” speech, 1963
“Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.” Strength to Love, 1963
“I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.” “Letter from Birmingham City Jail,” 1963
“True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.” “Letter from Birmingham City Jail,” 1963.