Remembering the Wisdom of Martin Luther King Jr.

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Today marks the start of the three-day Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend. For many of us, this simply means we have an extra day to work on things around the house, to spend additional quality time with family or even to start those new projects that keep getting pushed off. But there’s also time this weekend to reflect on the accomplishments of the great Dr. King and the way he managed to take a measured and well-thought out approach to achieving his goals.

Dr. King was born Jan. 15, 1929, in Atlanta, and was assassinated in April 1968 in Memphis, Tenn. King was just 39 years old at the time. Beginning in the 1950s until his death, he was considered one of the great orators and leaders of his time. Among his most significant efforts, King led the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott and he became the first president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1957. He also helped organize the 1963 March on Washington, and in 1964, King won the Nobel Peace Prize for opposing racial inequality through nonviolent resistance.


Martin Luther King Jr.'s "hipster"
spectacles were spotted in a display
of his personal items at the
Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta Airport
in late 2017.
Dr. King also was aware of the important position he played as a mentor and role model. We’re reminded here of a story about Dr. King and his eyeglasses – “MLK: The Original Hipster” – published in our sister publication 20/20 Magazine just over a year ago. 20/20 contributor Preston Fassel happened upon a display in the Atlanta airport that featured a pair of Dr. King’s eyeglasses, and other personal possessions.

“When I first realized what I was looking at, I figured they must have been readers,” Fassel wrote in the October 2017 issue. “After all, I, like countless Americans, grew up seeing dozens of photos of him in textbooks and watching numerous speeches in class, and he isn’t bespectacled in a single one of them. So he must’ve been experiencing the early stages of presbyopia…”

However, the rationale behinds Dr. King’s decision to wear eyeglasses occasionally is much more aligned with fashion, and the importance of projecting a certain look, than function. As the information card in the display noted, “Although he didn’t need them, Martin Luther King Jr., thought glasses made him look ‘distinguished.’”

   

In remembrance of Dr. King on this national holiday weekend, we offer a few of his most famous observations:

  • The time is always right to do what is right.

  • The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

  • Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.

  • In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.

  • Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

  • Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
For a more complete rundown of Dr. King’s life and additional quotes from his interviews and speeches, check out this 2018 profile of Dr. King in The Independent.