Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day by Honoring His Words
Each January, we celebrate the wisdom and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., whose fight and vision for a better society left a lasting mark on the nation and still inspire many to this day. Though his “I Have a Dream” speech is perhaps his most famous, King gave over 2,500 speeches in his lifetime and was full of powerful truths and beliefs that can guide us toward more meaningful, impactful living today.
To celebrate MLK Day 2023, we have gathered some of our favorite actionable Martin Luther King quotes to help you honor everything he did for our country.
7 Martin Luther King Quotes to Act On
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
This is another popular MLK quote that champions the power of unselfish, unconditional love. In the spirit of loving your fellow humans – strangers or not – you could perform a random act of kindness, whether it’s buying someone a coffee, letting someone go in front of you in the grocery line, or helping an overwhelmed friend clean their home.
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”
Though its meaning is similar to the first Martin Luther King quote, this one is more pointed and far-reaching. What are you doing to help improve others’ quality of life? For kindness with greater impact, look for ways to help your community. You could sign up for local volunteer opportunities, such as at an animal shelter or soup kitchen. Making regular donations to your favorite charity is also impactful.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
The importance of advocating for what is right and not allowing ourselves to be complicit in injustice is at the core of King’s teachings. To embody this today and beyond, speak up when you see someone being wronged or treated unfairly. Have hard conversations with your friends and family about topics like equality and inclusivity. You can also help make changes by getting involved in your local government, such as attending town hall meetings, voting, and writing to your elected officials about significant topics.
“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.”
Do something kind or make a nice gesture for someone you don’t particularly like, be it a family member, coworker, or old high school peer. This could be simply ordering food delivery to their workplace, adding them to your prayer list, or reaching out if you see they are going through a hard time. Making connections like this will strengthen your community and may inspire others to do the same.
“Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”
When was the last time you learned something new and significant, that made you a kinder or more thoughtful person? Take the time to learn something new that could have a positive impact on your life or others’ lives. This could be learning first aid or even better financial habits. After all, you can’t help others until you are in a solid place to do so. Take the first step by reviewing some of our financial education resources, which include online money management tools and guidance, considerations when making major financial decisions, and planning and saving for the future.
“Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions.”
Challenge yourself to learn about a new subject or see the world from someone else’s point of view. Practice your critical thinking skills by reading or listening something thought-provoking that makes you reflect on life, like poetry, biographies, or essays from notable figures – like a compilation of Martin Luther King quotes and speeches.
“The length of life means that you must love yourself. And you know what loving yourself also means? It means that you’ve got to accept yourself.”
This is one of the easier MLK quotes to live by: performing an act of kindness for yourself. Give yourself the same forgiveness and grace you give to those you love. Take time to do one significant act of self-care, like enjoying a hobby, scheduling that doctor’s visit you have been putting off, or improving your relationship with your finances. If you don’t already, consider journaling. It can help you better know, accept, and improve yourself.
Words to Live By
At American Heritage, we're inspired by the life and legacy of MLK and his commitment to social justice. As a credit union, helping and empowering the communities we serve is at the heart of what we do. We are a national leader in credit unions’ charitable involvement, and we have established numerous community involvement and assistance programs. Learn more about how we strive to make a difference in our communities, and get involved in your community this MLK Day 2023.