The memorial honoring the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. will be dedicated today in Washington, D.C. (if Hurricane Irene doesn’t delay things).
Today also marks the 48th anniversary of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech and the 56th anniversary of the murder of Emmett Till, a brutal race-related killing that led many to say “no more.”
Dr. King delivered his famous speech not far from where the monument stands.
In honor of this anniversary and the hoped-for dedication of the monument, I offer these remarks by Dr. King, many from his “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”
Dr. King’s words changed the world, and they still have the power to move us:
— Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.
— There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair.
— 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.
— 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.
— Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be coworkers with God ...
— One day the South will know that when these disinherited children of God sat down at lunch counters, they were in reality standing up for what is best in the American dream ...
— Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.
— Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.
— Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.
— I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
— Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our Northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.
— Men, for years now, have been talking about war and peace. But now, no longer can they just talk about it. It is no longer a choice between violence and nonviolence in this world; it’s nonviolence or nonexistence.
Perhaps the monument dedicated today and the memory of Dr. King will spur us to renew the struggle he died for.