Fifty years ago, an assassin gunned down Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Memphis, Tenn., and took his life.
James Earl Ray fatally shot King Apr. 4, 1968, outside the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. King delivered a speech the day before advocating for a strike sanitation workers conducted. Doctors pronounced King dead about an hour after the shooting at St. Joseph’s Hospital.
King dedicated his life to fighting for black America’s civil rights, leading numerous non-violent marches to call attention to the denial of rights and lack of equality black Americans suffered in the United States.
In honor of Dr. King’s legacy to bring equal rights to black Americans, let’s take a look at five of his most powerful quotes:
1. “I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I’m happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.” —April 3, 1968, speech given to Mason Temple Church
2. “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. And, what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the economic plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years.” —Sept. 27, 1966, CBS News interview
3. “Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, ‘Wait.’ But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters … then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait.” —Letter from a Birmingham Jail
4. “ We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” —Letter from a Birmingham Jail
5. “Communism forgets that life is individual. Capitalism forgets that life is social, and the kingdom of brotherhood is found neither in the thesis of communism nor the antithesis of capitalism but in a higher synthesis. It is found in a higher synthesis that combines the truths of both.” —SCLC Presidential Address, 1967
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