Blog Post – Martin Luther King’s Legacy
Martin Luther King was born on January 15, 1929 and assassinated on April 4, 1968.
On April 16, 1963, Dr. King wrote probably his most famous letter – his Letter from the Birmingham Jail. It was written in response to a strong statement written by eight clergymen and published in the local newspapers four days earlier. The statement urged blacks to withdraw their support from Dr. King and his demonstrations. They accused him of using “extreme measures” that incite “hatred and violence” and that his actions were “unwise and untimely.” They urged Dr. King to have racial issues “properly pursued in the courts.”
Here are a few excerpts that can transcend time and are so pertinent for today:
Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.
More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.
I have heard numerous southern religious leaders admonish their worshipers to comply with a desegregation decision because it is the law, . . . . In the midst of a mighty struggle to rid our nation of racial and economic injustice, I have heard many ministers say: “Those are social issues, with which the gospel has no real concern.”
I have traveled the length and breadth of Alabama, Mississippi and all the other southern states. On sweltering summer days and crisp autumn mornings I have looked at the South’s beautiful churches with their lofty spires pointing heavenward. I have beheld the impressive outlines of her massive religious-education buildings. Over and over I have found myself asking: “What kind of people worship here? Who is their God? Where were their voices when the lips of Governor Barnett dripped with words of interposition and nullification? Where were they when Governor Wallace gave a clarion call for defiance and hatred?
In deep disappointment I have wept over the laxity of the church. . . . Yes, I see the church as the body of Christ. But, oh! How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and through fear of being nonconformists. There was a time when the church was very powerful in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society.
Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent and often even vocal sanction of things as they are.
But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.
Some of Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous quotes:
“The time is always right to do what is right.”
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
“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.” —
“We will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”
“The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict.”
“One who condones evils is just as guilty as the one who perpetrates it.”