Every year when I read a biography of Martin Luther King, Jr. aloud to my third grade class, I get all choked up when he is assassinated at the end.
It’s like watching Titanic and always hoping—maybe this time they won’t hit that damn iceberg. Everyone will survive!
But, no. The ship sinks and Martin is shot in the head standing on his hotel balcony in Memphis, Tennessee in the spring of 1968.
He has a federal holiday and loads of streets named after him. He is a national hero, and deservedly so. Sure, he probably cheated on his wife, just like that other three-initialed icon of the 60s, JFK. He wasn’t perfect. No one is.
Like other cultural icons such as Gandhi, Mother Teresa and Nelson Mandela, we idealize and sanctify Martin Luther King, Jr. in our minds and history textbooks.
MLK wasn’t flawless, but he was a powerful catalyst for Civil Rights for the oppressed—and love, peace and justice for all humans. He was a true bodhisattva, and his words and philosophies ring true today as much as they ever have.
Happy MLK Day! Read on for 15 of the Reverend’s most inspiring quotes.