Ten Quotes From Martin Luther King, Jr. That Mean Even More Now!

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  1. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
  2. If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”
  3. “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”
  4. “Many white Americans of good will have never connected bigotry with economic exploitation. They have deplored prejudice but tolerated or ignored economic injustice.”
  5. “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.”
  6. “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
  7. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
  8. “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
  9. “A man not willing to die for something is not fit to live!”
  10. “A riot is the language of the unheard.”

April 4, 1968

One day when I was twelve, I was playing basketball in the alley that divided my block at my white friend Mark’s house. Mark had a backboard nailed to his garage which served as one of the two “basketball courts” on our block. There were four of us playing that day; Mark, Lyle, Angelo and myself.

I’d already had eaten and generally wouldn’t be required to come back home before the street lights came on which was the universal sign to get inside. During the middle of the game, I noticed my mother walking rapidly towards us and she called my name. She had never interrupted one of our games before. While I’d often seen her walk around the block after a meal, I’d never seen the fast pace before with which she neared.

She yelled for me to, “Come home right now” which immediately made me wonder what I might have done wrong. I was a good student and generally thought of at that time as a “teacher’s pet” although that reputation would change in later years. When I met her half-way, she simply said, “We have to get home right now!”  I followed her silently, easily keeping up but still having to stride quickly to maintain the pace. We passed thru the back gate and entered the back door which she locked behind us.

Instead of letting me know what I did wrong she simply walked thru the kitchen and dining room and sat on the living room sofa facing the TV. She put her hands in her head and quietly sobbed.

“They killed him. They killed Martin Luther King, Jr.”