Martin Luther King’s Utopian Quotes You Probably Haven’t Been Exposed To In School Books

Though he was not appreciated by everyone (especially politically) at the time, Martin Luther King Jr. is without a doubt one of the 20th century top historical figures. His leadership of the Civil Rights Movement has gained him a great reputation which has grown even greater after his death -assassination to be exact- in 1968. Some scholars even claim that the legacy of King Luther has always been deliberately whitewashed.

The activist Luther was known to oppose capitalism, commercialism and militarism. This is obviously what has pushed some politicians to derisively bring about his “I have a Dream” saying every time and again.

The following quotes offer a clearer image of one of the whole world’s famous guys in history, but unfortunately often not well-understood.

1 ‘Of All The Forms Of Inequality, Injustice In Health Is The Most Shocking And Inhuman.’

Full quote:

“We are concerned about the constant use of federal funds to support this most notorious expression of segregation. Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and the most inhuman because it often results in physical death.

I see no alternative to direct action and creative nonviolence to raise the conscience of the nation.”

Source: Oshkosh Daily Northwestern, March 26, 1966

2 ‘A Riot is the Language of the Unheard’

Full quote:

“I contend that the cry of “black power” is, at bottom, a reaction to the reluctance of white power to make the kind of changes necessary to make justice a reality for the Negro. I think that we’ve got to see that a riot is the language of the unheard.”

Source: Mike Wallace interview, 1966

3 ‘Our Only Hope Today Lies In Our Ability To Recapture The Revolutionary Spirit And Go Out Into A Sometimes Hostile World Declaring Eternal Hostility To Poverty, Racism, And Militarism’

Full quote:

“It is with such activity in mind that the words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago he said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken, the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investments. 

I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin… the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”

Source: Beyond Vietnam, 1967

4 ‘True Compassion Is More Than Flinging A Coin To A Beggar. It Comes To See That An Edifice Which Produces Beggars Needs Restructuring.’

Full quote:

“A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand, we are called to play the Good Samaritan on life’s roadside, but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho Road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.”

Source: Beyond Vietnam, 1967

5 ‘The Evils of Capitalism are as Real as the Evils of Militarism and Evils of Racism’

Source: Speech to Southern Christian Leadership Conference Board, 1967

6 ‘The Solution To Poverty Is To Abolish It Directly By A Now Widely Discussed Matter: The Guaranteed Income’

Full quote:

“I am now convinced that the simplest approach will prove to be the most effective – the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed matter: the guaranteed income… The curse of poverty has no justification in our age. It is socially as cruel and blind as the practice of cannibalism at the dawn of civilization, when men ate each other because they had not yet learned to take food from the soil or to consume the abundant animal life around them. The time has come for us to civilize ourselves by the total, direct and immediate abolition of poverty.”

Source: “Where Do We Go From Here?” 1967

 7 ‘We Must Be Concerned Not Merely About Who Murdered Them, But About The System, The Way Of Life, The Philosophy Which Produced The Murderers’

Full quote:

“They are the martyred heroines of a holy crusade for freedom and human dignity. And so this afternoon in a real sense they have something to say to each of us in their death. They have something to say to every minister of the gospel who has remained silent behind the safe security of stained-glass windows. They have something to say to every politician who has fed his constituents with the stale bread of hatred and the spoiled meat of racism… 

They say to each of us, black and white alike, that we must substitute courage for caution. They say to us that we must be concerned not merely about who murdered them, but about the system, the way of life, the philosophy which produced the murderers. Their death says to us that we must work passionately and unrelentingly for the realization of the American dream.”

Source: “Eulogy for the Martyred Children,” 1963

 8 ‘Every Man Of Humane Convictions Must Decide On The Protest That Best Suits His Convictions, But We Must All Protest.’

Full quote:

“Moreover, I would encourage all ministers of draft age to give up their ministerial exemptions and seek status as conscientious objectors. These are the times for real choices and not false ones. We are at the moment when our lives must be placed on the line if our nation is to survive its own folly. Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest.”

Source: Beyond Vietnam, 1967

9 ‘An Individual Has Not Started Living Until He Can Rise Above The Narrow Confines Of His Individualistic Concerns To The Broader Concerns Of All Humanity’

Full quote:

“I would like to suggest some things that we must do to live in this new world, to prepare to live in it, the challenges that confront us. The first thing is this, that we must rise above the narrow confines of our individualistic concerns, with a broader concern for all humanity. You see, this new world is a world of geographical togetherness. No individual can afford to live alone now. The nation cannot live alone for we have been brought together.”

Source: “The Birth of a New Age,” August 11, 1956

10 ‘I Have The Audacity To Believe That Peoples Everywhere Can Have Three Meals A Day For Their Bodies, Education And Culture For Their Minds, And Dignity, Equality And Freedom For Their Spirits.’

Full quote:

“I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of thermonuclear destruction. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. I believe that even amid today’s mortar bursts and whining bullets, there is still hope for a brighter tomorrow. I believe that wounded justice, lying prostrate on the blood-flowing streets of our nations, can be lifted from this dust of shame to reign supreme among the children of men. 

I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centered men have torn down men other-centered can build up. I still believe that one day mankind will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed, and nonviolent redemptive good will proclaim the rule of the land. “And the lion and the lamb shall lie down together and every man shall sit under his own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid.” I still believe that We Shall overcome!”

Source: Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, 1964

11 ‘The Function Of Education Is To Teach One To Think Intensively And Think Critically. Intelligence Plus Character – That Is The Goal Of True Education.’

Full quote:

“The function of education, therefore, is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. But education which stops with efficiency may prove the greatest menace to society. The most dangerous criminal may be the man gifted with reason, but with no morals.

We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education. The complete education gives one not only power of concentration, but worthy objectives upon which to concentrate. The broad education will, therefore, transmit to one not only the accumulated knowledge of the race but also the accumulated experience of social living.”

Source: “The Purpose of Education,” 1947

12 ‘I Must Confess That Over The Past Few Years I Have Been Gravely Disappointed With The White Moderate’.

Full quote:

“First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” 

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.”

Source: “Letter From Birmingham Jail,” 1963