Martin Luther King Jr. on Protesting

When I’m at my janitorial job, I’m working my way through the audio course The History of the United States. Earlier this week I came to the lecture on the civil rights movement, and I was impressed by this quote from Martin Luther King Jr:

“Our method will be that of persuasion, not coercion. We will only say to the people: ‘Let your conscience be your guide.’ Our actions must be guided by the deepest principles of our Christian faith. Love must be our regulating ideal. Once again we must hear the words of Jesus echoing across the centuries: ‘Love your enemies; bless them that curse you, and pray for them that despitefully use you.’ If we fail to do this our protest will end up as a meaningless drama on the stage of history, and its memory will be shrouded with the ugly garments of shame. In spite of mistreatment that we have confronted, we must not become bitter and end up hating our white brothers. As Booker T. Washington said: ‘Let no man pull you down so low as to make you hate him.’ If you will protest courageously and yet with dignity and Christian love, when the history books are written in future generations the historians will have to pause and say, ‘There lived a great people–a black people–who injected new meaning and dignity into the veins of civilization.’ That is our challenge and our overwhelming responsibility.”

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