Celebrating Reverend Martin Luther King Jr’s Legacy, Part 3

Martin Luther King Jr, at a press conference / World Telegram & Sun photo by Walter Albertin, 8 June 1964. No known copyright restrictions

By Kathie Malley-Morrison & Anthony J. Marsella

The Meaning of Peace and the Criteria for Nominations to the MLK Peace & Social Justice Activist List

To be hopeful in bad times … is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness …. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.

Howard Zinn (2007) A Power Governments Cannot Suppress                      

The word is Hope.


 Peace, in the sense of the absence of war, is of little value to someone who is dying of hunger or cold. It will not remove the pain of torture inflicted on a prisoner of conscience. It does not comfort those who have lost their loved ones in floods caused by senseless deforestation in a neighboring country. Peace can only last where human rights are respected, where people are fed, and where individuals and nations are free.”

The XIVth Dalai Lama 

The word is Freedom.


In 200 CE, Rabbi Tarphon spoke of the importance of individual and collective responsibility to pursue “justice, even as the eternal quest may never be fulfilled: While the task is not upon thee to complete, neither art thou free to desist from doing your part!”

The word is Commitment.


 The words of Shantidiva, 8th-century Buddhist Bodhisattva.:

            May I be an endless treasure for the poor and destitute;

            May I turn into all things they could ever need,

            And may these then be placed close beside them.

With no sense of loss, may I give up my possessions, even my body,

            And all past, present, and future virtues, to help all beings.

The word is Sacrifice.


“I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.”  Mahatma Gandhi

The word is Nonviolence.


 “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.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

The word is Courage.


 “I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice no matter who it’s for or against! Malcolm X

The word is Justice.


 “It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.”

Anne Frank, The Diary of Anne Frank

The word is Integrity.


Freedom, commitment, sacrifice, nonviolence, courage, justice, integrity! These, we believe, are the components of peace and the defining qualities of our nominees for the MLK Peace & Social Justice Activism List.

What do you think of these criteria? Starting with our next post, tell us what you think of our nominees and send your own selections. Together we stand.


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One Response to Celebrating Reverend Martin Luther King Jr’s Legacy, Part 3

  1. Carolyn Amir says:

    Great quotes. It seems that a common thread between all of these important historical figures is their deep, felt sense of their values and ideals. Anne Frank maintained her belief in humanity “in spite of everything”; Malcolm X fought for justice “no matter who it’s for or against”; Martin Luther King Jr. took a firm position despite the consequences because his “conscience tells him it is right.” An ideal nominee for the MLK Peace & Social Justice Activist List, therefore, would be someone whose beliefs have been tested through adversity.

    It is easy to preach standards of sacrifice, justice, and freedom when we are comfortable and our own livelihoods are not threatened. But true courage is revealed when presented with “pain of torture”, with personal tragedy, with unforgiving enemies of peace. And true integrity is revealed when one is willing to fight for others in pain when they themselves are comfortable.

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