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Words of wisdom from the not-so-distant past
January 20, 2013 8:43 PM   Subscribe

17 Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes You Never Hear
posted by flapjax at midnite (32 comments total) 56 users marked this as a favorite

 
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, militarism and economic exploitation are incapable of being conquered.

It's true, I've never heard this. Thanks, I have some reading to do.
posted by Huck500 at 8:52 PM on January 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


Includes one picture of Dr. King in handcuffs and one picture of Dr. King receiving the Nobel Prize.
posted by scratch at 9:00 PM on January 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Many people do not realize that MLK was more than a figurehead or political leader--he was the most important American rhetorician of the last century. I don't know if his writing is what I would call philosophy, but only because that label implies that you could possibility disagree with the fundamental truth of his words. Every year, I remind myself that as long as lazy people want a day off in mid-January, and we get to relive his amazing life and reread his brilliant writing, America can still do some really great things.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:10 PM on January 20, 2013 [8 favorites]


No POTUS is worthy of touching his bible.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:11 PM on January 20, 2013 [8 favorites]


In other words, I voted LOL OMG WTF OLD and WIN
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:15 PM on January 20, 2013


My favorite (MLK's move towards socialism):

"I want to say to you as I move to my conclusion, as we talk about 'Where do we go from here,' that we honestly face the fact that the Movement must address itself to the question of restructuring the whole of American society. There are forty million poor people here. And one day we must ask the question, 'Why are there forty million poor people in America?' And when you begin to ask that question, you are raising questions about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth. When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy. And I'm simply saying that more and more, we've got to begin to ask questions about the whole society. We are called upon to help the discouraged beggars in life's market place. But one day we must come to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. It means that questions must be raised. You see, my friends, when you deal with this, you begin to ask the question, 'Who owns the oil?' You begin to ask the question, 'Who owns the iron ore?' You begin to ask the question, 'Why is it that people have to pay water bills in a world that is two thirds water?' These are questions that must be asked."
posted by Joseph Gurl at 9:15 PM on January 20, 2013 [13 favorites]


Even more valuable reading (and hearing).
posted by grabbingsand at 9:17 PM on January 20, 2013


How Dr. King changed the course of Star Trek history - He told Nichols how important her role was, not least of all because until then, black people hadn’t been depicted in anyone’s vision of the future.
posted by unliteral at 9:19 PM on January 20, 2013 [13 favorites]


"Now, we got to get this thing right. What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive, and that love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best ... power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love. And this is what we must see as we move on."

"Where Do We Go From Here?", Delivered at the 11th Annual SCLC Convention - Atlanta, Ga.
posted by grabbingsand at 9:22 PM on January 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


MLK was an amazing man; these quotes lay bare some fundamental truths about our society. Sadly, all are as relevant today--or more so--as they were 45 years ago.
posted by maxwelton at 9:27 PM on January 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Related: The Obama family at the MLK, Jr. Memorial
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:29 PM on January 20, 2013


Oh man, I love that those transcribed speeches also include the responses from the audience. As soon as you see it, it's obvious that it's the right editorial decision — but it woulda been so easy just not even to think of it.
posted by and so but then, we at 9:32 PM on January 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Online King Records Access from Stanford has documents going back to 1937.

MLKOnline.net has additional resources on the speeches of Dr. MLK Jr.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:49 PM on January 20, 2013 [1 favorite]




..."No POTUS is worthy of touching his bible."

No POTUS should be ingratiating any bible at anytime in the public realm.
posted by quazichimp at 10:56 PM on January 20, 2013 [18 favorites]


I like this debunking of a MLK quotation because, given their ideological position, they could have just gone with it - it was consistent with his views, it appeared to have MLK's family's imprimatur, if nothing else it could be called a "higher truth". But no, they did their research and acknowledged that it was false. Respect.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:56 PM on January 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


The one about White Moderates makes me suffer some serious White Guilt.
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
That would have been me in the 60s. It's me now, about other subjects.
posted by DigDoug at 6:02 AM on January 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ten from Jay Smooth, worth watching all the way through.
posted by clavicle at 7:38 AM on January 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Not only America's greatest rhetorician, but also probably America's most revered leftist. And because of that reverence, his legacy is in constant danger of co-optation. Even as we remember his stirring words about a dream, let us also keep remembering the other words that made us less self-congratulatory, and most uncomfortable with ourselves and with the broader society.
posted by Miko at 7:47 AM on January 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


Many people do not realize that MLK was more than a figurehead or political leader--he was the most important American rhetorician of the last century.

Seconded. Much of what I've learned about rhetoric, I learned first from his Letter from Birmingham Jail.
posted by limeonaire at 8:39 AM on January 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


No POTUS is worthy of touching his bible.

Cornel West on why he's upset that Obama is using MLK's bible: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96d_CzrfxsM&feature=share
posted by aka burlap at 8:42 AM on January 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Teju Cole linked to this speech earlier: Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.

This could have been written to today's 99 percent:

"Shall we say the odds are too great? Shall we tell them the struggle is too hard? Will our message be that the forces of American life militate against their arrival as full men, and we send our deepest regrets?"
posted by limeonaire at 9:06 AM on January 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Several more MLK quotes you never hear:

- "Honey could you... what? Honey? Cou... No. No. Yeah, OK. Well, I was going to ask ... nevermind."

- "Actually, I ordered the Ceasar salad. Also could he get a new fork?"

- "Hey, what? Oh, excuse me. I'm sorry. Is the sound system all set up? Thank you. I appreciate that."
posted by dgaicun at 9:21 AM on January 21, 2013


So I was thinking about King's legacy some more in the shower just now, and I realized: Another King quote you never hear is even the suggestion of proselytizing. Yet as my mind wandered under the hot water, after reading that last linked speech, I found myself thinking, "You know, this is a vision of Christianity I could get behind. This is the kind of Christian I could see being."

And I'm very much not a Christian—so much so that I once broke off an engagement in part because marrying the person would have entailed conversion to Christianity, and despite my best attempts over several years to learn about the religion in depth and cultivate faith, it wasn't forthcoming. Yet reading King's words, which stemmed from such a clear and deep faith, moved me to turn the idea around in my head once again, to think about this religion that was at the core of his being.

For King's part, it's not that he didn't care whether people were saved—in fact, it seems to me he probably cared deeply about that. But he didn't mouth platitudes about "getting saved" and "getting right with God" while there was still obviously so much work to be done in other areas. And that work is still there to be done—yet so many preachers, to paraphrase Firas Durri, misuse their megaphone by staying within a tiny slice of reality/ideas and appealing to a tiny slice of the population.

It's perhaps telling that when I searched for "get right with God" and "Martin Luther King," to try to make sure there wasn't a quote from King using that phrase, I instead found this On the Media transcript from the week Jerry Falwell died, talking about Falwell's early accusations that King was "tainting his pulpit with civil-rights advocacy." That right there tells you much of what you need to know about the present-day split between solipsistic, self-interested Christendom and those doing more important work. King himself had many more words for those whose notion of Christianity didn't include the kind of social justice that should be—that in truth, is—at the heart of the religion.

One of the most important legacies King left was the notion that the "meekness" and "humility" of Christianity don't necessitate numbly accepting what's before you or dumbing down your words or your vision; that you can be a righteous servant of God and speak in full, meaningful sentences about the work that is to be done; that being inclusive and seeking social justice for all are some of the most essential things about being Christian, rather than afterthoughts. Would that more would-be servants of the Lord would take away those lessons from his speeches and teachings.
posted by limeonaire at 10:43 AM on January 21, 2013 [8 favorites]


Would that more would-be servants of the Lord would take away those lessons from his speeches and teachings.

Well, people of that persuasion are not as rare as you might think.
posted by Miko at 10:51 AM on January 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


Sure—but too many of those with the big megaphones completely miss the point, alas.
posted by limeonaire at 10:54 AM on January 21, 2013


Previously, Martin Luther King's 1957 advice column, Advice for Living. "Let the man that led the Montgomery boycott lead you into happier living."
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 11:07 AM on January 21, 2013


I'm wondering how they'll work these quotes into Chris Rock's MLK Ninja Warrior movie next year.
posted by jeffburdges at 11:30 AM on January 21, 2013


I would watch that.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:36 AM on January 21, 2013


limeonaire: "Teju Cole linked to this speech earlier: Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.

This is my favorite King speech.
posted by Mister_A at 3:40 PM on January 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sure—but too many of those with the big megaphones completely miss the point, alas

Too many, indeed, but nothing at all new about that.
posted by Miko at 4:18 PM on January 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


The closing bit in "The Drum Major Instinct" where MLK envisions his death and legacy always gives me chills, seeing as how it came just a few weeks before his assassination.

Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. (Amen) Say that I was a drum major for peace. (Yes) I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter. (Yes) I won't have any money to leave behind. I won't have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind. (Amen) And that's all I want to say.

posted by Panjandrum at 8:32 AM on January 22, 2013


Good ones.

Michelle Alexander quoted this poem by Carl Wendell Hines, written not long after his assasination about Malcolm X, at a luncheon speech for an MLK Jr event last week, and it applies well here:

Now that he is safely dead,
Let us Praise him.
Now that he is safely dead,
Let us Praise him.
Build monuments to his glory.
Sing Hosannas to his name.

Dead men make such convenient Heroes.
They cannot rise to challenge the images
We would fashion from their Lives.
It is easier to build monuments
Than to make a better world.

So now that he is safely dead,
We, with eased consciences, will
Teach our children that he was a great man,
Knowing that the cause for which he
Lived is still a cause
And the dream for which he died
Is still a dream.

posted by bearwife at 2:22 PM on January 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


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