10 Life Lessons Taught By Martin Luther King Jr.

The late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was a Baptist minister and social activist who lead the U.S. civil rights movement from the mid-1950s. He was best known for his 1963 “I Have A Dream” speech. In reverence of Martin Luther King Jr, the third Monday of January is a U.S. Federal Holiday to commemorate his birthday. Since birthdays are so important to me, I’ve compiled a list of life lessons he has taught through quotes.

Life Lessons Taught By Martin Luther King Jr.

  1. To ignore evil is to become an accomplice to it.
    Although Dr. King embraced pacifism, he took an active role in the United States Civil Rights Movement. In addition to his duties as a Baptist Minister, he took an active role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the March on Selma and the March on Washington. His job was not to be a civil activist, his job was to be a minister. Dr. King teaches us here: You cannot ignore evil that you know is taking place, to ignore it is to participate in it.
  2. The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comforts and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
    You remember your first year of college when literally everyone you met, had a class with or had literally two things in common with was your friend? It’s like, the first two months of school is literally an onslaught of “friend requests” and friends. But after midterms come around, you find out who your real friends are. Who is going to encourage you to go to study? Who won’t pressure you to drink the night before an exam? Dr. King teaches us here that inconvenience and controversy are the better judges of character.
  3. In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
    Rev King teaches us in this quote:
  4. I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.
    Listen, to this. If someone can control your emotions they can control you. any person who I could fix my heart and mind to hate, I know for a fact is not worthy to control me. I don’t want to have to ask my Lord for forgiveness. I don’t want to be angry or walk around with the yuck face. It’s just, not a good look. Not a good burden to bear. Not my thing. Not for me. Thank you, Dr. King, for this lesson, so well worded.
  5. If you can’t fly run. If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, crawl. But by all means, keep moving. 
    This lesson is a great visualization of how even baby steps are still progressing. Don’t worry about how long it takes you to reach your goal; nor if you don’t see immediate results. That is ok! Keep working toward your dreams. Keep pushing the envelope. Dr. King reminds us: Even an inch forward is in the right direction.
  6. Life’s most persistent and urgent question is what are you doing for others?
    Dr. King lived his life in service to others. After graduating from Morehouse College, and pursuing ministry, Dr. King lived his life in service to others. Sacrificing time with his wife and his growing family to be an organizer and leader of the Civil Rights Movement.
  7. You don’t need to see the entire staircase just take the first step.
    This lesson is on FAITH and one you will have to lean on when you have big bold dreams. Sometimes it’s difficult to make decisions if we can’t see ourselves in the end result. Like going to college, or getting married, or having children. But to be honest, you do not need to see the end result to take the first steps toward your end goal. You just need to see the first one or two steps. Do you have faith in yourself, in your creator, in your work ethic to take the first step?
  8. The time is always right to do what is right.
  9. If I can not do great things, I can do small things in a great way.
  10. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
    This is the same lesson as An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind. You can not fight darkness with darkness. In fact, the opposite of darkness is light. The same for hate. You can not fight hate with you. The opposite of hate is love. Dr. King drives home his message of pacifism with this quote. To triumph over darkness, you must not allow it to overcome you but to overcome it with the light.

What is your favorite Dr. King Quote? How do you celebrate MLK Jr. Day?

Be bold. Live out loud & as always remember,


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