Friday, January 14, 2005

Martin Luther King Jr.

To celebrate MLK Jr. Day, I thought I'd post quotes from his speeches and letters. I'm now enrolled in the Black Theology course for my spring semester at Xavier and enjoyed watching a documentary of Dr. King's life on Wed. night. I can't understand why the Civil Rights Movement isn't given a more prominent place in our school educations. I lived during those years and yet didn't have a genuine grasp of what they really constituted or meant. To see police turning fire hoses and attack dogs on women and children is too awful to express. I found myself near tears.

The whole idea that segregation lasted 100 years after the Emancipation Proclamation... who thinks about it? Well, not me. But I am now. I can see why so many African Americans feel that the struggle isn't over (as much as talk radio asserts that it is). It's been forty years. That's all. Half a lifetime. We want to move on so quickly and forget that our grandparents probably thought "negroes" were inferior human beings. We project ourselves backward into that time and assume we would have marched. It makes me wonder what I am overlooking today that deserves my attention and commitment.

I am also struck by how many similarities there are between Dr. King's thoughts about law and justice and those of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's (I wrote a lengthy paper about his letters and papers from prison last semester). There is much food for thought here as we think about the US role in foreign affairs as well.


All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality.

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.

In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.

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

When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative.

All progress is precarious, and the solution of one problem brings us face to face with another problem.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.

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.

These come from a page of Selected Quotations of Dr. Martin Luther King Junior.

No comments: