When did Martin Luther King say this? "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he...

When did Martin Luther King say "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy"?

This quotation was likely first made in August 1958 in a pair of sermons. The sermons were published in a short book in 1959 and then again in 1963. He is alluding to the fact that a person's true moral fiber only becomes apparent in times of deep struggle and challenge, and cannot be fully measured in times of peace.

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This is one of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's most cited quotations. In fact, it is inscribed on his memorial in Washington DC along with other famous sayings of the civil rights leader. The most well-known publication of this quotation can be found in Strength to Love, a collection of Dr. King's sermon published in 1963, the same year he was made Time Magazine's Man of the Year.

The original sermons containing "The ultimate measure of a man" were delivered in August 1958 at the first National Conference on Christian Education of the United Church of Christ at Purdue University. The line appears in two of his sermons, "What Is Man?" and "The Dimensions of a Complete Life". Due to the popularity of these and other sermons, they were published the following year in the book The Measure of a Man.

Ever since his days as a seminary student, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had been concerned with the theme of what defines a human's righteousness. The ideas of these two sermons were developed as early as the late 1940s or early 1950s. Some manuscripts of Dr. King's early sermons deal with this theme. It is one that he explored throughout his lifetime. It can be seen in many of his later works as well, including his famous "Letter from Birmingham Jail."

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This quote is most commonly attributed to a collection of sermons Martin Luther King Jr published in 1963 titled Strength to Love, although it did first appear a few years earlier. Although King is well known as a civil rights activist and a passionate, eloquent speaker, some forget that he was also a Baptist preacher. In this book, the way religion is interwoven into his platform of nonviolence is made clear.

In this quote, King is alluding to the test of one's character that becomes evident in times of difficulty. While it is fairly easy to retain good morals when facing no trials in life, it is when people face adversity that their true selves become evident. During these times in his own life, King did not buckle from his platform of non-violence, always treating those who opposed him with respect. This quote is embedded in a book that reaches out to all of humanity and urges people to treat others with compassion and respect, always operating from a place of love for humankind.

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What King means by this is that it's easy for someone to take a stand on a controversial issue—like civil rights, for example—if they're in a comfortable position in life and they're not directly affected by it. However, it's much more difficult to take a stand when you're in a position of extreme stress and danger, when you're putting your life on the line for the things that you believe in. Then, and only then, can one get the full measure of someone, to find out what they're really like and what really matters to them.

When King wrote these words in the 1959 book The Measure of a Man, he was just setting out on his journey as a civil rights campaigner. He knew that the road ahead would be long and hard, but he also knew, as this quotation shows, that his involvement in the struggle for civil rights would be the making of him.

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This quote first appeared in a book called The Measure of a Man, published in 1959. The book was a publication of two sermons Martin Luther King gave at a conference sponsored by the United Church of Christ in 1958 at Purdue University. It later appeared in a sermon collection called Strength to Love (1963).

In the quote cited, King reiterated a familiar trope, also expressed in his "Letter from Birmingham Jail." He was distressed by white sympathizers who sat on the sidelines of the Civil Rights struggle and refused to fully commit to working for the cause of black equality.

It is easy, he says, to say the right words when all is well, but what matters is what you do when the rubber hits the road, so to speak (meaning, when it's put to the test). It basically means that if you are not there walking and working in solidarity with African Americans in times of controversy and danger then you do not really support the cause of social justice. In contrast, those who stand firm and put their well-being on the line are the people who bring about lasting change.

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This quotation is from Martin Luther King's book, Strength to Love, a collection of his sermons, edited by Melvin Arnold and Charles Wallis and published in 1963 by Harper and Brother's Religious Books.

There are plenty of explanations of the meaning of this quotation, including the eNotes reference below, but it is important to assess its message: namely, that men and women who have the courage and strength to live out their moral beliefs, even in the face of adversity, are the true champions in this world.

King's Strength to Love contained very many messages for the America and global public, some of which appeared too strong for its readers, or perhaps the political leadership, and which were subsequently removed by editors Arnold and Wallis. See the Stanford University King Institute Encyclopedia for further information.

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