Martin Luther King Jr. was and still is a prominent figure, how can we apply some of his quotes to our lives today?

Martin Luther King Jr., an American Christian minister, activist and leader in the Civil Rights Movement from 1955 to 1968. We hear his name, see his face and read about his accomplishments and endeavors in books. The year is 2021, how can we take some of his sayings to apply them to this timeframe? This article will focus on his quotes and ways we can implement them in our lives.

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends,” states Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in a 1968 speech. This is a significant quote because of the impact it has on people who have experienced hate crimes. Some points we can take from this are that the silence of our friends when a discriminatory incident or hardship is happening to us will hurt us more than that of a stranger’s. Surrounding ourselves with people who will uplift us in these times ease the difficulty so that we may do the same for others. 

“The time is always right to do what is right,” said Dr. King in his speech “The Future of Integration” in 1964. Do we feel like it’s sometimes late to act upon our feelings on what is right? Or do we feel like our contribution may not benefit the cause? It’s always the right time to do what is just, it is never late to act. While we are standing, while we are breathing, while our hearts are beating, it is never too late. 

“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.” This is from the collection of Dr. King’s sermons in “Strength to Love” published in 1963. At times in our lives we may be privileged to be in the comfort of our homes, schools and gatherings. When enduring hardship or a challenge enters our lives, the most important part is where we are and how we overcome it. Instead of running away from the challenge, we must face it. 

“But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars,” said Dr. King in his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech in 1968. We are overcome by our daily lives. When conflicts such as war or COVID-19 occured and impacted daily life, it was then that appreciation for nature, small gestures by loved ones and ourselves began. Sometimes we have to go through trials, even in our darkest moments in life, to be able to see hope. 

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” from Dr. King’s letter to Birmingham jail, 1963. Sometimes more attention is directed to a specific part of the world when conflict arises rather than from another part that has been enduring conflict for years. While there are active concentration camps in East Turkistan that prominently hold Uyghurs and other ethnic groups, while there are hundreds of innocent incarcerated individuals, while there are Immigrant Detention centers in the U.S., while children are dying from malnutrition in Yemen. Any and every one of these are a threat to justice everywhere. There is no safety nor justice anywhere in the world until it is everywhere.

“No person has the right to rain on your dreams.” You were born alone, you will leave this earth alone. Nobody is allowed to interfere with your dreams unless you allow them to. It is you who will make this dream a reality, you who will stand up each time you fall, and you who will always and always be there for yourself. You are the key to your happiness and reality. 

“People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other, and they don’t communicate with each other because they are separated from each other,” said Dr. King at King Chapel, Cornell College, 1962. 

Racism, Islamophobia, Anti-Semitism, Homophobia, and much more. Phobia means the extreme fear of something. With people who are different from our ethnic, religious or cultural background, what are we exactly afraid of? Doesn’t love overcome hate? Whether it’s the color of our skin or belief preferences, shouldn’t we embrace the diversity we live around today? 

Dr. King fought for equality and justice. He was ambitious, brave, smart and inspirational. His words are what we can carry with us for generations to come. His work and efforts are to never be forgotten as a symbol and historical moment of the fight for justice within the United States. 

Growing up knowing some of Dr. Martin Luther King’s aspirations, I embrace the differences we have in our communities and around the world. We should love, not fear. Learn, not ignore. Celebrate, not isolate.

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