Navigation bar
Peace Matters






About King

Quotations on:
- Racialism
- Poverty
- Religion and the church
- War and Peace
- Civil Disobedience
- The movement & Black Power
- Violence & Nonviolence
- Through other people's eyes
- Speech


Audio tape of King's speeches is available

All the quotations, text of the speech and other material about King is available as an illustrated pdf fille.


on poverty

True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it understands that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. (C)

The storm is rising against the privileged minority of the earth, from which there is no shelter in isolation and armament. The storm will not abate until a just distribution of the fruits of the earth enables man everywhere to live in dignity and human decency. (D)

When these (white jailers) told me what they were earning, I said, now, 'You know what? You ought to be marching with us. You're just as poor as Negroes.' And I said, 'You are put in the position of supporting your oppressor. Because through prejudice and blindness, you fail to see that the same forces that oppress Negroes in American society oppress poor white people. And all you are living on is the satisfaction of your skin being white, and the drum major instinct of thinking that you are somebody big because you are white. And you're so poor you can't send you children to school.'

Ideals and Reality Throughout the upheavals of cold-war politics, Negroes had seen their government go to the brink of nuclear conflict more than once. The justification for risking the annihilation of the human race was always expressed in terms of America's willingness to go to any lengths to preserve freedom. To the Negro that readiness for heroic measures in defence of liberty disappeared or became tragically weak when the threat was within our own borders and was concerned with the Negro's liberty. While the Negro is not so selfish as to stand isolated in concern for his own dilemma, ignoring the ebb and flow of events around the world, there is a certain bitter irony in the picture of his country championing freedom in foreign lands and failing to ensure that freedom to twenty million of its own. (B)

(Black Power advocates) have seen American applauding non-violence whenever the Negroes have practised it. They have watched it being praised in the sit-in movement of 1960, in the Freedom Rides of 1961, in the Albany movement of 1962, in the Birmingham movement of 1963 and in the Selma movement of 1965. But then these same black young men and women have watched as America sends black young men to burn Vietnamese with napalm, to slaughter men, women and children; and they wonder what kind of nation it is that applauds non-violence whenever Negroes face white people in the streets of the United States but then applauds violence and burning and death when these same Negroes are sent to the fields of Vietnam. (C)

In 1957 a sensitive American official overseas said that it seemed to him that our nation was on the wrong side of a world revolution. I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contract between poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries and say, 'This is not just.' It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America and say, 'This is not just.' The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just. A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war, 'This way of settling differences is not just.' This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues to spend more money year after year on military defence than on programmes of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom. (D)


  P E A C E  P L E D G E  U N I O N  1 Peace Passage London N7 0BT, Britain.
  phone  +44 (0)20 7424 9444  fax: +44 (0)20 7482 6390     CONTACT US