Dr. Martin Luther King – in celebration and memory

I have compiled a number of quotations uttered by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We at Temple Israel of Hollywood in Los Angeles will celebrate Dr. King’s life during this coming Friday’s Kabbalat Shabbat services — January 18 beginning at 6:30 p.m. The community is welcome.

We will play 13 minutes of a 43-minute sermon Dr. King delivered from our bimah at Temple Israel of Hollywood in April, 1965.

Dr. King’s entire speech can be heard here.

Here are a selection of Dr. King’s comments:

“A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.”

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it. ”

“It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important.”

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable. No social advance rolls in on the wheels of inevitability. Every step requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle – the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”

“Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. It cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.”

“We will never have peace in the world until men everywhere recognize that ends are not cut off from the means because the means represent the end in process, and ultimately you cannot reach good ends through evil means because the means represent the seed and the end represents the tree.”

“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”

“An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.”

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

“If we are to go forward, we must go back and rediscover those precious values: that all reality hinges on moral foundations and that all reality has spiritual control.”

“Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.”

“Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.”

“That old law about “an eye for an eye” leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing.”

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is – What are you doing for others?”

“The first question that the priest and the Levite asked was: “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?” But…the good Samaritan reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”

“Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”

“If physical death is the price I must pay to free my white brothers and sisters from a permanent death of the spirit, then nothing can be more redemptive.”

“Our world is a neighborhood…We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality.  And whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.

“We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now because I’ve been to the mountaintop. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain, and . . . I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we, as people, will get to the Promised Land. And I’m happy tonight. I’m not fearing any man. ” – Spoken shortly before his death.

“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as foools.”

Injustice anywhere is a thret to justice everywhere.”

“People don’t get along because they fear each other. People fear each other because they don’t know each other. They don’t know each other because they have not properly communicated with each other. ”

“The response of some of the so-called young militants does not represent the position of the vast majority of Negroes. There are some who are color-consumed and they see a kind of mystique in blackness or in being colored, and anything non-colored is condemned. We do not follow that course … Peace for Israel means security, and we must stand with all our might to protect her right to exist, its territorial integrity and the right to use whatever sea lanes it needs. Israel is one of the great outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvelous example of what can be done, how desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy. Peace for Israel means security, and that security must be a reality…When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You’re talking anti-Semitism.”

About the Author
John L. Rosove is Senior Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Israel of Hollywood in Los Angeles. He is a national co-Chair of the Rabbinic and Cantorial Cabinet of J Street and a past National Chairman of the Association of Reform Zionists of America (ARZA). He serves as a member of the Advisory Council of the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism. John was the 2002 Recipient of the World Union for Progressive Judaism International Humanitarian Award and has received special commendation from the State of Israel Bonds. In 2013 he was honored by J Street at its Fifth Anniversary Celebration in Los Angeles. John is the author of 3 books - "From the West to the East - A Memoir of a Liberal American Rabbi" (2024), "Why Israel Matters - Letters of a Liberal Rabbi to the Next Generation with an Afterword by Daniel and David Rosove" (Revised edition 2023), and “Why Judaism Matters – Letters of a Liberal Rabbi to his Children and the Millennial Generation with an Afterword by Daniel and David Rosove” (2017). All are available at John translated and edited the Hebrew biography of his Great Granduncle – "Avraham Shapira – Veteran of the Haganah and Hebrew Guard" by Getzel Kressel (publ. by the Municipality of Petach Tikvah, 1955). The translation was privately published (2021). John is married to Barbara. They are the parents of two sons - Daniel (married to Marina) and David. He has two grandchildren and he lives in Los Angeles.
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