By Michael J. Leclerc
Today we celebrate and honor the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., We here in Boston have a special affiliation with him, as he spent five years here at the Boston University School of Theology. It was here that he met a beautiful young student at the New England Conservatory of Music named Coretta Scott. Martin Luther King, Jr., lead a movement whose greatest result is a legacy of nonviolent change. He is a perfect example of how one voice can change the world. I would like to share with you some of his quotes that speak to me.
Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1964, from WikiMedia Commons.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.”
“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”
“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it 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.”
“The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”
“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.”
“We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”
Perhaps the three that I find most pertinent however, are the following:
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”
“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”
To our good fortune, many entities feverishly documented the powerful words of Martin Luther King Jr. throughout his inspirational journey. It is partially because of this documentation that his story will live on and his words will continue to inspire future generations.
Today, as we commemorate the courageous words of Martin Luther King Jr., we must also remember our own family members who sought justice throughout their lives. Although their stories may have gone undocumented, many of us know of family members who had the courage to fight for a better life for future generations. Unfortunately, as time passes, many of these inspirational stories remain untold and are left to pass with those who carry them.
So here is my challenge to you. It is our responsibility, as family history researchers, to document the words of our families, past and present. Do not let these stories go untold; take the time to talk to your family members and record their stories, so their words can continue to inspire your family for many generations to come.