I am coming to feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than the people of goodwill. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people. We must come to see that human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and persistent work of men willing to be co-workers with God, and without this hard work time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy, and transform our pending national elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity.
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Source Notes: Source: MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., letter to several clergymen from the Birmingham City Jail, Birmingham, Alabama, April 16, 1963.Microfilm of original typescript, p. 6. This has been widely reprinted, with occasional textual variations.
Martin Luther King, Jr., (January 15, 1929 - April 4, 1968) was one of the main leaders of the American civil rights movement, a political activist, a Baptist minister, and was one of America's greatest orators. In 1964, King became the youngest man to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (for his work as a peacemaker, promoting nonviolence and equal treatment for different races). On April 4, 1968, King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee.