The actual quote by the late Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., is as follows:
"A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right. A man dies when he refuses to stand up for justice. A man dies when he refuses to take a stand for that which is true."
The origins of the oft-cited quote included in the student's question is uncertain, as it was attributed to King by somebody else. Be that as it may, King's March 8, 1965, speech in Selma, Alabama, in which he made the above statement, stands as a touching expansion upon 18th century English philosopher Sir Edmund Burke's famous observation that "the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." King's point, as with Burke, was that evil or injustice left unopposed will invariably prevail over justice, with unfortunate consequences for the whole of society. Those who recognize that a wrong is being committed and who fail to act may not be culpable with the triumph of evil, but neither are they innocent of the bad that results. King, as his religious education and training suggest, believed in the existence of a soul, and man's soul would not survive the failure to act in the face of injustice. Speaking in the context of the centuries-old struggle for civil rights, King's words constituted yet another clarion call for all people to stand up for what they know is right.