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NOW READING Honoring The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. And The Wisdom Of His Words
January 18, 2021

Honoring The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. And The Wisdom Of His Words

One of the most moving orators of our time, Martin Luther King, Jr. used the power of words to encourage self-love, love for others and to bring the human race together.


 

Depending on your age, you may not remember a time when the third Monday in January wasn’t reserved to honor the wisdom and contributions of the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. The holiday was signed into law in late 1983 but didn’t receive nationwide designation as a paid state holiday until 2000, 17 years later.

 

Martin Luther King
Memorial to Dr. Martin Luther King.

 

Wherever you are today, the Beautytap team hopes you’ll take a moment to reflect on some of King’s great sermons, memorable speeches, and insightful metaphors about light, love and acceptance.

 

On Light

 

Martin Luther King Day

 

 

Many sources shorten Dr. King’s quotation down to the bare bones of simple darkness and light by referencing only the second and third sentences, but in so doing, they eliminate important contextual information that grounds King’s wisdom in something more concrete — the practice of returning like for like, or in this case, the futile practice of fighting hatred with hatred. Much of this quotation is grounded in Dr. King’s passion for revisiting Matthew 5:43-45 throughout the year during his sermons because of its emphasis on loving our enemies. 

 

In theory, it’s an easy thing to do. In practice, not so much. Recognizing that to banish what ails and hinders the world requires us to approach it from a position of complete awareness (or illuminated opposition) was not only a beautiful metaphor, but the epitome of loving others as a form of preservation, growth and hope. If we recognize that darkness holds us captive and that light sets us free, then we also learn that loving a person even while hating their actions can break the cycle of soul-crushing “destruction.” 

 

On Love

 

 

On December 10, 1964 while accepting the Nobel Prize for Peace, Dr. King reminded the world that the civil rights movement was far from over and that people were being “brutalized and murdered” for peacefully seeking fundamental rights that had been withheld for far too long.  The love that King spoke of in “Loving Your Enemies” is now seen as a way to transform a nation without responding to violence with more violence. In this speech, Dr. King juxtaposed bombs and bullets with “brighter” tomorrows and replaced the “‘isness’ of man’s present nature” with the “‘oughtness’” he believed resided within us all. Although the Nobel Prize for Peace was awarded to King personally, he accepted it on behalf of its “true owners – all those to whom beauty is truth and truth beauty.”

 

On Acceptance

 

 

If you’re struggling to become something, to attain something, to evolve into something, Dr. King’s words may sound like a call to stasis, to simply accept what you are. Believe it or not, that is exactly what he spoke of in this 1967 sermon. Self-love, self-care, self-acceptance – these qualities sustain us internally, are necessary for living a complete life and form the foundation for recognizing our greater purpose so we can become our very best selves. King hopes we will be the fullest bush, the most effective trail, or the brightest star because acceptance of self doesn’t mean giving up your goals, but rather aligning them more closely with who your true self happens to be.

 

In closing, everyone at Beautytap wishes you a day filled with peace, hope, self-love and unity. Please let this serve as a reminder: “We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right.”

Tracy Ann Teel is a full-time freelance writer and the owner of Finesse Writing and Editing LLC. She’s a tutorial writer for San Francisco Globe’s beauty platform, FierceLeague.com, covering everything from skin and hair care to makeup and nail art. She writes for skincare companies, dermatologists, and cosmetic surgeons, and proudly taught at her MFA alma mater, the University of California Irvine, as a member of their adjunct faculty in English. She’s been a textbook reviewer for Prentice Hall, been recognized three consecutive years in the Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers, and has written professionally for 30+ years. Her poetry chapbook Such Dust was published by Finishing Line Press, and her work has appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Rattle, Pearl, Kaleidoscope, and Lake Arrowhead Life.

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COMMENTS 20

porcelainautumn


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I have been reading his Letters from Birmingham Prison, and I found it really disheartening that people quote him so much, but leave out the inconvenient parts.
What I found most interesting is the point at which he was explaining why the protests, and protested that his audience has not seen the atrocities that preceded it.
Humans are horrible at seeing the bigger picture, which is partly because of our lizard brain’s need to protect is from the unknown.

porcelainautumn


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PS. Our lizard brains are dumb.

tracyteel


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King's sermons, like any detailed argument, require context. I am happy to delve into the archives for both students and the general populace.

deborahbell86


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Humbling and inspiring for sure!

tracyteel


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I've always enjoyed King's work, and I hope that at least one of these quotes spurs curiosity in people to read and learn more. Every time I revisit one of his sermons, I see the poet/pastor at work -- crafting, fine-tuning, and strengthening the power of the message he hopes to convey.

ninaash


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Saw this memorial in DC - it is stunning!

tracyteel


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D.C. has always been one of my favorite places in the U.S. You can feel the potential -- emphasis on potential. I haven't seen this monument in person (last trip was in 2010) but I hope to get back one day soon.

jonniskincare


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Let us continue his work. We are far from done. Let us work together to create a world he would be proud of.

tracyteel


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Truer words have never been spoken. We can always do more and be better.

acarmon

Thank you for writing this tracyannteel! This was an amazing read!

tracyteel


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Thank you so much. It was a real honor to write this after teaching Dr. King's work for so many years. He had a gift, and we would be wise to keep revisiting his offerings throughout the year.

madijane

Thanks for compiling all this, tracyannteel !!
These are all good quotes, and to add to the collection, here's my favorite:
“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”
They're all important words to live by and I like the sentiment of small steps and perseverance.

tracyteel


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Beautiful choice, @madijane! So many of King's messages were just different variations on the same concept. That's one reason his words continue to inspire millions._nicename_

brittaneybunjong

Thank you for sharing such great words as we reflect on Dr.King today and always!

tracyteel


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Thank you for taking the time to read this. It was an honor to revisit Dr. King's work in a meaningful way after being out of the college classroom for so long.

tracyteel


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Every article I write has value and meaning, but reflecting on Dr. King's words in such a deep way was a true honor. When we begin to strive for change, we learn that meaningful repetitions help us build habits. Habits become patterns, and patterns become instincts. In his sermons, Dr. King's repetitions teach us that we can always do better and be better. And by combining light and love, we learn to accept ourselves and others. Wishing the world a peaceful day and a brighter, more hopeful tomorrow.

gretchellpaltao

A true inspiration.

tracyteel


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Dr. King is proof that words can change the world.

james

Especially during these divisive times, it's so important to honor and remember what Dr. King stood for. Taking action and not sitting back, but doing it will love and peace in mind.

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