This will appear in Monday’s print edition.
It’s tempting to wonder what Martin Luther King Jr. would have to say about how far black Americans have come in the 44 years since his death.
A black first family lives in the White House. A black Republican was, for a while, a top contender to run against the incumbent black president. The richest woman in entertainment (Oprah Winfrey) is a black American who grew up poor. Blacks play prominent roles in virtually every facet of American life.
King likely would still have a lot to say today. Here are some of his better-known quotes on this Martin Luther King Jr. Day. He would have turned 83 on Sunday.
• A right delayed is a right denied.
• All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.
• 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.
• Discrimination is a hellhound that gnaws at Negroes in every waking moment of their lives to remind them that the lie of their inferiority is accepted as truth in the society dominating them.
• Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.
• Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.
• History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.
• 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.
n I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
• Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
• It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important.
• Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
• 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.
• If physical death is the price that I must pay to free my white brothers and sisters from a permanent death of the spirit, then nothing can be more redemptive.