As one of the most influential voices in the civil rights movement, Martin Luther King Jr. helped change the course of history. Today, as we celebrate his legacy, we are reminded of just how true his words remain today.
Here are a few inspirational quotes from King himself on leadership and the importance of leading with purpose.
1. “Whatever your life’s work is, do it well. A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better.”
2. “We are not makers of history. We are made by history.”
3. “If a man has not discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.”
4. “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?”
5. “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted,or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”
6. “All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.”
7. “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
8. “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.”
9. “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”
10. “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent.”
This story originally published on Jan. 18, 2016.