I know you are asking today, “How long will it take?”

Somebody’s asking, “How long will prejudice blind the visions of men, darken their understanding, and drive bright-eyed wisdom from her sacred throne?” Somebody’s asking, “When will wounded justice, lying prostrate on the streets of Selma and Birmingham and communities all over the South, be lifted from this dust of shame to reign supreme among the children of men?” Somebody’s asking, “When will the radiant star of hope be plunged against the nocturnal bosom of this lonely night,  plucked from weary souls with chains of fear and the manacles of death? How long will justice be crucified, and truth bear it?”

I come to say to you this afternoon, however difficult the moment, however frustrating the hour, it will not be long, because “truth crushed to earth will rise again.”

How long? Not long, because “no lie can live forever.”

How long? Not long, because “you shall reap what you sow.” …

How long? Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.

– MLK, Address at the Conclusion of the Selma to Montgomery March

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“remain committed to nonviolence.”

And so I plead with you this afternoon as we go ahead: remain committed to nonviolence. Our aim must never be to defeat or humiliate the white man, but to win his friendship and understanding. We must come to see that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience. And that will be a day not of the white man, not of the black man. That will be the day of man as man.

– MLK, Address at the Conclusion of the Selma to Montgomery March

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The only normalcy that we will settle for

is the normalcy that recognizes the dignity and worth of all of God’s children. The only normalcy that we will settle for is the normalcy that allows judgment to run down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream. The only normalcy that we will settle for is the normalcy of brotherhood, the normalcy of true peace, the normalcy of justice.

– MLK, Address at the Conclusion of the Selma to Montgomery March

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“It was normalcy by a cafe in Selma, Alabama, that led to the brutal beating of Reverend James Reeb.”

…We see it in numerous editorials: “When will Martin Luther King, SCLC, SNCC, and all of these civil rights agitators and all of the white clergymen and labor leaders and students and others get out of our community and let Alabama return to normalcy?”

But I have a message that I would like to leave with Alabama this evening. That is exactly what we don’t want, and we will not allow it to happen, for we know that it was normalcy in Marion that led to the brutal murder of Jimmy Lee Jackson.  It was normalcy in Birmingham  that led to the murder on Sunday morning of four beautiful, unoffending, innocent girls. It was normalcy on Highway 80  that led state troopers to use tear gas and horses and billy clubs against unarmed human beings who were simply marching for justice.  It was normalcy by a cafe in Selma, Alabama, that led to the brutal beating of Reverend James Reeb.

— MLK, Address at the Conclusion of the Selma to Montgomery March

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In the glow of the lamplight on my desk a few nights ago,

I gazed again upon the wondrous sign of our times, full of hope and promise of the future. And I smiled to see in the newspaper photographs of many a decade ago, the faces so bright, so solemn, of our valiant heroes, the people of Montgomery. To this list may be added the names of all those who have fought and, yes, died in the nonviolent army of our day: Medgar Evers,  three civil rights workers in Mississippi last summer, William Moore, as has already been mentioned, the Reverend James Reeb, Jimmy Lee Jackson,  and four little girls in the church of God in Birmingham on Sunday morning. But in spite of this, we must go on and be sure that they did not die in vain. The pattern of their feet as they walked through Jim Crow barriers in the great stride toward freedom is the thunder of the marching men of Joshua, and the world rocks beneath their tread.

— MLK, Address at the Conclusion of the Selma to Montgomery March

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The battle is in our hands.

And we can answer with creative nonviolence the call to higher ground to which the new directions of our struggle summons us.  The road ahead is not altogether a smooth one. There are no broad highways that lead us easily and inevitably to quick solutions. But we must keep going.

— MLK, Address at the Conclusion of the Selma to Montgomery March

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Let us march on ballot boxes,

until race-baiters disappear from the political arena.

Let us march on ballot boxes until the salient misdeeds of bloodthirsty mobs  will be transformed into the calculated good deeds of orderly citizens.

Let us march on ballot boxes until the Wallaces of our nation tremble away in silence.

Let us march on ballot boxes until we send to our city councils, state legislatures,  and the United States Congress, men who will not fear to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with thy God.

Let us march on ballot boxes until brotherhood becomes more than a meaningless word in an opening prayer, but the order of the day on every legislative agenda.

— MLK, Address at the Conclusion of the Selma to Montgomery March

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