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A Couple Quotes From Martin Luther King Jr.

January 17, 2011 · 38 comments

in Commentary

I wasn’t even a year old when Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.  Therefore, I cannot fully understand the impact he made at the time on the civil rights movement.  I have heard speeches, I have seen clips, but I did not live it; I was not there.

I have spent a bit of time learning about Martin Luther King Jr, and the more I know, the sadder I am that he was stricken down so young.  He accomplished so much in 39 years, and during a very tenuous time for racial relations.  Can you imagine the change he may have been able to make had he lived another 39 years or more?

To honor Martin Luther King, I would like to share a couple quotes that I found very interesting:

“Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.”

I do not know the exact date these words were spoken, but even if it was the year he died, it is still a quote from over forty years ago, and the words apply to just about every aspect of life.  Every single day, I see people looking to take the easy way out, or relying on others to get them out of a situation they created.  It is also very common to see people react to other people or situation based on information they were told or maybe read.   There is so much ignorance out there in the world, and it is willing ignorance.   If someone started with a clean slate, without any preconceived notions or impressions, would they really still think that any race is better than any other?  If you think about it, little kids don’t care about who they play with.  It isn’t until parents (and others) teach kids to judge others based on skin color or economic status that people start to exclude others, often based on prejudice.  If teens/grown ups could just think for themselves, instead of being poisoned by the views of others, they might realize  that skin color, gender, economic status, etc does not matter.  We are all human.  This leads me to another quote I like:

“We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”

I just love those 15 words.  Outside of your siblings, nobody has the same exact background as you.  Not one of us had any control over our circumstances or where we were born in this life.  You get what you get.  You are inherently no more special if your parents arrived first class from Europe a hundred years ago than someone whose grandfather maybe stowed away on a ship to escape tyranny in their country.  Regardless, we all have 26 chromosomes.  We are all here together now, and the past should not matter.  We should work together to make the world the best we can today.  No excuses, just action.

Do you have a favorite quote from Martin Luther King Jr?  Do you remember any of his speeches when they were actually given?

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{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

101 Centavos January 17, 2011 at 7:27 am

Great article on Dr. King. Given all the wisdom he dispensed in his speeches and writings, there is much to choose from. Still, this one I like:

Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent. Martin Luther King, Jr

Reminds me of an Italian proverb often quoted by my relatives, that if you live as (or make yourself into) a sheep, the wolf will get you.


Kris January 17, 2011 at 8:18 am

101 – That is a fantastic quote. You are right, there are so many to choose from.

Your Italian proverb is a good one too. Basically, you can only let people take advantage of you. I need to remember that one…


Dianna January 17, 2011 at 8:19 am

Great quotes, Kris. They really make you think. My favorite is a simple one but always hits me,

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”


Kris January 17, 2011 at 10:57 am

I like that one too Dianna! It is amazing how much a few words can make you think.


Moneycone January 17, 2011 at 8:40 am

“We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”

That is a wonderful quote!

Here’s my favorite:

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


Kris January 17, 2011 at 11:02 am

Another good one! I just hope the misguided men are never in control of the guided missiles. With nuclear capability expanding and so many extremists in the world, it is getting a little scary.


Roshawn @ Watson Inc January 17, 2011 at 9:42 am

great quotes and reflections.

My favorite is ““If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.””


The Biz of Life January 17, 2011 at 9:55 am

Fantastic quote. Most profound I’ve seen today.


Roshawn @ Watson Inc January 17, 2011 at 4:13 pm

Thanks Biz. You’re too kind!


Money Reasons January 17, 2011 at 10:51 am

Great quote Shawn!

This is what I was trying to with my post “Pride in your Work”. Looks like Mr. King had this idea a long time ago!!!


Roshawn @ Watson Inc January 17, 2011 at 4:14 pm

Yes @MR it’s amazing how many ideas get repeated!


Kris January 17, 2011 at 11:03 am

This is a fantastic quote. I read one that was similar, but the one you posted says it even better. If only everyone lived all aspects of their lives like the great street sweeper.


Roshawn @ Watson Inc January 17, 2011 at 4:15 pm

Kris, that’s exactly how I feel! It’s quite a lot to live up to.


The Biz of Life January 17, 2011 at 10:01 am

Ten thousand fools proclaim themselves into obscurity, while one wise man forgets himself into immortality.


Kris January 17, 2011 at 11:04 am

Biz- very interesting, and yet so true. It is often the loudmouth that says the least…


Deidre @ TransFormX January 17, 2011 at 10:18 am


What a wonderful article to honor Dr. King. His legacy lives on inspiring not only we in the US but people all over the world!

Fantastic quote that you chose – Wow!

“We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”

There are so many levels & nuances to this message that one cannot fully take in its meaning at first glance or the first time one hears it. Dr. King’s legacy teaches us to open ourselves up, looking beyond the surface into the deep levels of all things, people and events. We honor Dr. King as we incorporate his legacy into our own lives and viewpoints.

Thank you for such a wonderful post!


Kris January 17, 2011 at 11:05 am

Thanks Deidre. You could write forever if you dissected each of the fantastic quotes of Martin Luther King Jr. I truly wish I could have seen him speak, to be there in the crowd.


Deidre @ TransFormX January 17, 2011 at 2:14 pm

I agree completely!


Squirrelers January 17, 2011 at 11:56 am

Really good article, Kris, Would you believe that this is the first year that I have had Martin Luther King Jr day off? It’s really an important day that should be honored as such.

Though he passed before I was born, I respect him for all his brave efforts. Our country is a better place for all, as a result of the work of many people in the 1960’s – with him being up at the head of the list.

My favorite quotes:

– “Only in the darkness can you see all the stars”

– “the time is always right to do the right thing”


Kris January 17, 2011 at 11:20 pm

Squirrel – Most people here don’t have school, but I think many people still work. You are right, it should be a more universal holiday.

I know I said this earlier, but could you imagine how much better the world would be if he had lived longer??


retirebyforty January 17, 2011 at 12:38 pm

Great write up on a great man. I’m going through the comment and he has a lot of great quotes. I’ll add this post to my round up.


Kris January 17, 2011 at 11:20 pm

RB40 – Thank you! It is amazing how many great quotes he had. You usually have to think about each one to for a minute to get the real impact.


Suba @ Wealth Informatics January 17, 2011 at 1:40 pm

“Whatever your life’s work is, do it well. A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better.”


“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”

Great article Kris!


Kris January 17, 2011 at 11:22 pm

The street sweeper is a quote that many really favor. I wish I had seen it before today (in the comment section) because I definitely would have written about that one.

Thanks for leaving the quotes!


First Gen American January 17, 2011 at 4:27 pm

I love the street sweeper quote too. You should take pride in everything you do. There is a dignity and pride to be had be being outstanding at your work no matter what it is.


Jenna January 17, 2011 at 6:40 pm

I wasn’t around during MLK’s life. My favorite quote is “At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love.”


Kris January 17, 2011 at 11:23 pm

Jenna- that is a very good one too. Unfortunately, so many people are filled with hate and ignorance…


Nicole January 17, 2011 at 9:24 pm

I had no idea he’d given so many great short quotes. I also wasn’t around while he was alive.


Kris January 17, 2011 at 11:25 pm

Nicole- I didn’t either until the last couple of years. I am actually surprised he is not quoted more often. Or maybe I just don’t read/listen enough. The street sweeper quote needs to be screamed from the rooftops.


Invest It Wisely January 19, 2011 at 5:58 pm

He is before my time so I’m not very familiar with his quotes or speeches, but I really like these quotes, and I especially like your interpretation of them.

I believe that human nature predisposes us to certain behavior and actions, and that institutions and incentives shape out these behaviors are expressed, and which actions are taken. Good institutions and incentives lead to good people and a harmonious society, where bad institutions and bad incentives can turn even good people into monsters.

Human nature being what it is and people being malleable as they are, it is so important for us to get the incentives right. I believe that non-violence (except in self-defence or in the defense of others), voluntary trade and association, and respect for the property, liberty and freedom of others is really the way to go. People need to be responsible and need to stop making others pay the price for their own mistakes. Socializing the losses while privatizing the gains is one of the quickest ways to achieve an immoral and unstable society. There is a dark side to human nature that comes out, if you goad people enough and through bad incentives steer everyone down the wrong path!


Columbus January 20, 2011 at 12:04 pm

NO country in the history of civilization has given full citzenship and rights to a race of people formely under their control. The “entitlement mentality” that permeates black society today is a travesty at best! I’ve never met a slave nor a slave order! My ancestors were also enslaved by others, throughout history, but that does not entitle me to financial, legal, etc. recourse now does it?


Columbus January 20, 2011 at 12:05 pm

correction, “order” should be owner on previous comments.


Jaya Ray February 1, 2011 at 8:51 am

“We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.” I don’t agree I have a wonderful boat it takes me where I want to go – I just breath in and out and make it up as I go big hugs Jayaxx


Kris February 1, 2011 at 3:16 pm

Your boat sounds very nice!


???? August 2, 2022 at 1:54 am

think? At a very light weight of about ????


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