Five days after Americans celebrate and honor Martin Luther King Jr., Donald Trump will be inaugurated as our 45th president.

It's been nearly 50 years since King was assassinated for his role as a leader in the fight for civil rights and racial equality. As we enter this new era — one in which, for many, it feels like King's dream of America is far out of reach — it's more important than ever to reflect on what King truly stood for.

Here are 27 quotes from the man himself that show us his actual ideal vision of America — and how far we still have to go before we get there.


Martin Luther King Jr. during the March on Washington, D.C. Photo by AFP/Getty Images.

1. King reminded us to stand up and speak out against the injustices we see in our world.

"To accept passively an unjust system is to cooperate with that system; thereby the oppressed become as evil as the oppressor," King wrote in his essay "Three Ways of Meeting Oppression."

"Noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good. ... To accept injustice or segregation passively is to say to the oppressor that his actions are morally right."

2. It's better to be frustrated with an unjust world than to just accept it.

In his sermon at Temple Israel of Hollywood, King said, "There are some things in our nation to which I’m proud to be maladjusted, to which I call upon all men of goodwill to be maladjusted until the good society is realized. ... I never intend to adjust myself to segregation and discrimination. I never intend to become adjusted to religious bigotry. I never intend to adjust myself to economic conditions that will take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few. I never intend to adjust myself to the madness of militarism and the self-defeating effects of physical violence."

3. Just because something is legal, that doesn't make it right, and not everything that is illegal is wrong.

"One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws," King said in "Letter From a Birmingham Jail."

4. How do you tell the difference between right and wrong? It's easy.

King explained this simply, again in "Letter From a Birmingham Jail": "Any law that uplifts the human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust."

He expanded on this idea in his "Rediscovering Lost Values" sermon: "Some things are right and some things are wrong. Eternally so, absolutely so. It's wrong to hate. It always has been wrong, and it always will be wrong. It's wrong in America, it's wrong in Germany, it's wrong in Russia, it's wrong in China. It was wrong in 2000 B.C., and it's wrong in 1954 A.D. It always has been wrong, and it always will be wrong."

5. Everyone deserves access to health care.

"Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane," King said at the Second National Convention of the Medical Committee for Human Rights in 1966.

6. Everyone also deserves to earn a living wage, have a safe work environment, and not be exploited by their bosses.

"The labor movement did not diminish the strength of the nation but enlarged it," King said in a 1961 address to the AFL-CIO, "by raising the living standards of millions, labor miraculously created a market for industry and lifted the whole nation to undreamed-of levels of production. Those who attack labor forget these simple truths, but history remembers them."

7. King believed every person has a right to food and shelter.

"Why should there be hunger and privation in any land, in any city, at any table when man has the resources and the scientific know-how to provide all mankind with the basic necessities of life?" King said in his 1964 Nobel lecture, "The Quest for Peace and Justice."

8. King wanted people to know there are fair ways to distribute wealth within the framework of democracy.

"You can use your powerful economic resources to wipe poverty from the face of the Earth," King said in "Paul's Letter to American Christians."

"God never intended for one group of people to live in superfluous inordinate wealth while others live in abject deadening poverty. God intends for all of his children to have the basic necessities of life, and He has left in this universe 'enough and to spare' for that purpose. So I call upon you to bridge the gulf between abject poverty and superfluous wealth."

9. Money is not a measurement of virtue, righteousness, or meaning.

"I am afraid that many among you are more concerned about making a living than making a life," King also said in "Paul's Letter to American Christians."

10. People have a right to vote. Period.

"All types of conniving methods are still being used to prevent Negroes from becoming registered voters. The denial of this sacred right is a tragic betrayal of the highest mandates of our democratic tradition," King said in his "Give Us the Ballot" speechand it's still true.

"... Give us the ballot, and we will no longer have to worry the federal government about our basic rights."

11. From employment to marriage to education to health care and beyond, civil and social rights matter for all people.

"If America is to remain a first-class nation, it cannot have second-class citizens," King preached in "The Rising Tide of Racial Consciousness."

12. We can't pass laws to make people get along with or accept people, but we can and should pass laws to protect the oppressed from harm.

(Lookin' at you, HB2 and First Amendment Defense Act.)

"It may be true that morality can't be legislated, but behavior can be regulated. It may be that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can restrain him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important also," King said in a 1966 speech at Southern Methodist University.

13. The most morally bankrupt people are the ones concerned more about getting caught than about doing something wrong in the first place.

"In a sense, we are no longer concerned about the Ten Commandments. ... Everybody is busy, as I have said so often, trying to obey the eleventh commandment: 'Thou shalt not get caught,'" King said in "Keep Moving From This Mountain."

14. King understood the U.S. is not a Christian nation.

Yes, he was a minister, but King was also a firm believer in separation of church and state.

"I endorse it [the Supreme Court's decision to outlaw prayer in school]," King explained in a 1965 interview with Playboy. "I think it was correct. Contrary to what many have said, it sought to outlaw neither prayer nor belief in God. In a pluralistic society such as ours, who is to determine what prayer shall be spoken and by whom? Legally, constitutionally or otherwise, the state certainly has no such right."

15. King also wanted people to know religion is no excuse for scientific ignorance.

"Science investigates; religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge which is power; religion gives man wisdom which is control. Science deals mainly with facts; religion deals mainly with values. The two are not rivals. They are complementary," he wrote in his book "Strength to Love."

"Science keeps religion from sinking into the valley of crippling irrationalism and paralyzing obscurantism. Religion prevents science from falling into the marsh of obsolete materialism and moral nihilism."

16. King was pro-choice and valued the many good things Planned Parenthood contributes to the world.

"Family planning, to relate population to world resources, is possible, practical, and necessary," he said in his acceptance speech for the Margaret Sanger Award from Planned Parenthood.

17. King spoke passionately about our economic struggles being largely the same, regardless of skin color.

"All too often when there is mass unemployment in the black community, it's referred to as a social problem, and when there is mass unemployment in the white community, it's referred to as a depression. But there is no basic difference," he said in his "Other America" speech from 1968.

"Most of the poverty stricken people of America," he said later in the speech, "are persons who are working every day, and they end up getting part-time wages for full-time work. ... This has caused a great deal of bitterness. It has caused a great deal of agony. It has caused ache and anguish. It has caused great despair, and we have seen the angered expressions of this despair and this bitterness in the violent rebellions that have taken place in cities all over our country."

18. This is why King believed that white laborers and black civil rights activists should work together toward their shared goals.

"Our needs are identical with labor's needs: decent wages, fair working conditions, livable housing, old-age security, health, and welfare measures, conditions in which families can grow, have education for their children and respect in the community," he said in a speech to the AFL-CIO.

19. Protests and riots aren't a problem. They're symptoms of bigger, systemic issues.

"A riot is the language of the unheard," King said in "The Other America." "And what is it America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last twelve or fifteen years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity."

20. There's never a correct "time" or "way" to achieve justice and change.

"I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was 'well timed' in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation," King said in "Letter From a Birmingham Jail." "For years now I have heard the word 'wait!' It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This 'wait' has almost always meant 'never.' We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that 'justice too long delayed is justice denied.'"

21. Michelle Obama may have perfected the catchphrase "When they go low, we go high," but it was central to King's beliefs as well.

"We must not seek to defeat or humiliate the enemy but to win his friendship and understanding," he said in "Loving Your Enemies," urging us all to resist our natural instincts toward pettiness and spite. "At times we are able to humiliate our worst enemy. Inevitably, his weak moments come and we are able to thrust in his side the spear of defeat. But this we must not do. Every word and deed must contribute to an understanding with the enemy and release those vast reservoirs of goodwill which have been blocked by impenetrable walls of hate."

22. Everyone deserves empathy and compassion.

From "Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence":

23. Although he was committed to nonviolence, King also made it clear: You cannot be moderate in the face of oppression and hate.

"The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be," King said in "Letter From a Birmingham Jail." "Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice?"

24. King warned of the dangers of giving power to thin-skinned egomaniacs, too.

"The individual who is self-centered, the individual who is egocentric ends up being very sensitive, a very touchy person," King said in "Conquering Self-Centeredness." "And that is one of the tragic effects of a self-centered attitude, that it leads to a very sensitive and touchy response toward the universe. These are the people you have to handle with kid gloves because they are touchy, they are sensitive. And they are sensitive because they are self-centered. They are too absorbed in self and anything gets them off, anything makes them angry."

25. The U.S. president should be held to a higher standard of diplomacy, humility, and temperament.

As he said in his Emancipation Proclamation Centennial Address, "No president can be great, or even fit for office, if he attempts to accommodate to injustice to maintain his political balance."

26. A society is built up by people working together.

"No matter where you stand, no matter how much popularity you have, no matter how much education you have, no matter how much money you have, you have it because in this universe helped you to get it," King said in his speech about self-centeredness.

"And when you see that, you can't be arrogant, you can't be supercilious. You discover that you have your position because of the events of history and because of individuals in the background making it possible for you to stand there."

27. "All we say to America is, 'Be true to what you said on paper.'"

As King said in "I’ve Been to the Mountaintop":

It's more important than ever that we honor King's legacy.

Maybe if we start to hold ourselves to that higher standard he believed in, we can finally turn his dreams into reality and make a better America for everyone.

Images courtesy of Letters of Love
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When Grace Berbig was 7 years old, her mom was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues. Being so young, Grace didn’t know what cancer was or why her mother was suddenly living in the hospital. But she did know this: that while her mom was in the hospital, she would always be assured that her family was thinking of her, supporting her and loving her every step of her journey.

Nearly every day, Grace and her two younger sisters would hand-make cards and fill them with drawings and messages of love, which their mother would hang all over the walls of her hospital room. These cherished letters brought immeasurable peace and joy to their mom during her sickness. Sadly, when Grace was just 10 years old, her mother lost her battle with cancer.“

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Losing my mom put the world in a completely different perspective for me,” Grace says. “I realized that you never know when someone could leave you, so you have to love the people you love with your whole heart, every day.”

Grace’s father was instrumental in helping in the healing process of his daughters. “I distinctly remember my dad constantly reminding my two little sisters, Bella and Sophie, and I that happiness is a choice, and it was now our job to turn this heartbreaking event in our life into something positive.”

When she got to high school, Grace became involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a handful of other organizations. But she never felt like she was doing enough.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for people to help beyond donating money, and one that anyone could be a part of, no matter their financial status.”

In October 2018, Grace started Letters of Love, a club at her high school in Long Lake, Minnesota, to emotionally support children battling cancer and other serious illnesses through letter-writing and craft-making.


Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Much to her surprise, more than 100 students showed up for the first club meeting. From then on, Letters of Love grew so fast that during her senior year in high school, Grace had to start a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of card-making materials.

Speaking about her nonprofit today, Grace says, “I can’t find enough words to explain how blessed I feel to have this organization. Beyond the amount of kids and families we are able to support, it allows me to feel so much closer and more connected to my mom.”

Since its inception, Letters of Love has grown to more than 25 clubs with more than 1,000 members providing emotional support to more than 60,000 patients in children’s hospitals around the world. And in the process it has become a full-time job for Grace.

“I do everything from training volunteers and club ambassadors, paying bills, designing merchandise, preparing financial predictions and overviews, applying for grants, to going through each and every card ensuring they are appropriate to send out to hospitals.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

In addition to running Letters of Love, Grace and her small team must also contend with the emotions inherent in their line of work.

“There have been many, many tears cried,” she says. “Working to support children who are battling cancer and other serious and sometimes chronic illnesses can absolutely be extremely difficult mentally. I feel so blessed to be an organization that focuses solely on bringing joy to these children, though. We do everything we can to simply put a smile on their face, and ensure they know that they are so loved, so strong, and so supported by people all around the world.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Letters of Love has been particularly instrumental in offering emotional support to children who have been unable to see friends and family due to COVID-19. A video campaign in the summer of 2021 even saw members of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild offer short videos of hope and encouragement to affected children.

Grace is currently taking a gap year before she starts college so she can focus on growing Letters of Love as well as to work on various related projects, including the publication of a children’s book.

“The goal of the book is to teach children the immense impact that small acts of kindness can have, how to treat their peers who may be diagnosed with disabilities or illness, and how they are never too young to change the world,” she says.

Since she was 10, Grace has kept memories of her mother close to her, as a source of love and inspiration in her life and in the work she does with Letters of Love.

Image courtesy of Grace Berbig

“When I lost my mom, I felt like a section of my heart went with her, so ever since, I have been filling that piece with love and compassion towards others. Her smile and joy were infectious, and I try to mirror that in myself and touch people’s hearts as she did.”

For more information visit Letters of Love.

Please donate to Grace’s GoFundMe and help Letters of Love to expand, publish a children’s book and continue to reach more children in hospitals around the world.

Upworthy is sharing this letter from Myra Sack on the anniversary of the passing of her daughter Havi Lev Goldstein. Loss affects everyone differently and nothing can prepare us for the loss of a young child. But as this letter beautifully demonstrates, grief is not something to be ignored or denied. We hope the honest words and feelings shared below can help you or someone you know who is processing grief of their own. The original letter begins below:


Dear Beauty,

Time is crawling to January 20th, the one-year anniversary of the day you took your final breath on my chest in our bed. We had a dance party the night before. Your posse came over. Aunts, uncles, grandparents, closest friends, and your loving nanny Tia. We sat in the warm kitchen with music on and passed you from one set of arms to another. Everyone wanted one last dance with you. We didn’t mess around with only slow songs. You danced to Havana and Danza Kuduro, too. Somehow, you mustered the energy to sway and rock with each of us, despite not having had anything to eat or drink for six days. That night, January 19th, we laughed and cried and sang and danced. And we held each other. We let our snot and our tears rest on each other’s shoulders; we didn’t wipe any of them away. We ate ice cream after dinner, as we do every night. And on this night, we rubbed a little bit of fresh mint chocolate chip against your lips. Maybe you’d taste the sweetness.

Reggaeton and country music. Blueberry pancakes and ice cream. Deep, long sobs and outbursts of real, raw laughter. Conversations about what our relationships mean to each other and why we are on this earth.


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Images courtesy of AFutureSuperhero and Friends and Balance Dance Project
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The day was scorching hot, but the weather wasn’t going to stop a Star Wars Stormtrooper from handing out school supplies to a long line of eager children. “You guys don’t have anything illegal back there - any droids or anything?” the Stormtrooper asks, making sure he was safe from enemies before handing over a colorful backpack to a smiling boy.

The man inside the costume is Yuri Williams, founder of AFutureSuperhero And Friends, a Los Angeles nonprofit that uplifts and inspires marginalized people with small acts of kindness.

Yuri’s organization is one of four inaugural grant winners from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, a joint initiative between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates kindness and everyday actions inspired by the best of humanity. This year, the Upworthy Kindness Fund is giving $100,000 to grassroots changemakers across the world.

To apply, campaign organizers simply tell Upworthy how their kindness project is making a difference. Between now and the end of 2021, each accepted individual or organization will receive $500 towards an existing GoFundMe and a shout-out on Upworthy.

Meet the first four winners:

1: Balance Dance Project: This studio aims to bring accessible dance to all in the Sacramento, CA area. Lead fundraiser Miranda Macias says many dancers spend hours a day at Balance practicing contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, and ballet. Balance started a GoFundMe to raise money to cover tuition for dancers from low-income communities, buy dance team uniforms, and update its facility. The $500 contribution from the Kindness Fund nudged Balance closer to its $5,000 goal.

2: Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team: In Los Angeles, middle school teacher James Pike is introducing his students to the field of robotics via a Lego-building team dedicated to solving real-world problems.

James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-against-school matchup that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the pricey $4,000 robotics kit. Thanks to help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team exceeded its initial fundraising goal.

Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team video update youtu.be

3: Black Fluidity Tattoo Club: Kiara Mills and Tann Parker want to fix a big problem in the tattoo industry: there are too few Black tattoo artists. To tackle the issue, the duo founded the Black Fluidity Tattoo Club to inspire and support Black tattooers. While the Brooklyn organization is open to any Black person, Kiara and Tann specifically want to encourage dark-skinned artists to train in an affirming space among people with similar identities.

To make room for newcomers, the club recently moved into a larger studio with a third station for apprentices or guest artists. Unlike a traditional fundraiser that supports the organization exclusively, Black Fluidity Tattoo Club will distribute proceeds from GoFundMe directly to emerging Black tattoo artists who are starting their own businesses. The small grants, supported in part with a $500 contribution from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, will go towards artists’ equipment, supplies, furnishings, and other start-up costs.

4: AFutureSuperhero And Friends’ “Hope For The Holidays”: Founder Yuri Williams is fundraising for a holiday trip to spread cheer to people in need across all fifty states.

Along with collaborator Rodney Smith Jr., Yuri will be handing out gifts to children, adults, and animals dressed as a Star Wars’ Stormtrooper, Spiderman, Deadpool, and other movie or comic book characters. Starting this month, the crew will be visiting children with disabilities or serious illnesses, bringing leashes and toys to animal shelters for people taking home a new pet, and spreading blessings to unhoused people—all while in superhero costume. This will be the third time Yuri and his nonprofit have taken this journey.

AFutureSuperhero started a GoFundMe in July to cover the cost of gifts as well as travel expenses like hotels and rental cars. To help the nonprofit reach its $15,000 goal, the Upworthy Kindness Fund contributed $500 towards this good cause.

Think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you’re bringing kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis from now through the end of 2021. For questions and more information, please check out our FAQ's and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.

A round-up of delights from around the internet this week.

Hey all!

Welcome to Upworthy's weekly round-up of delights from around the internet. This week's list features a little of everything—gorgeous music, cute kids, adorable animals, hope for the planet, and a brand new video message from the late and great Betty White.

That's right, Betty White left us one last message of gratitude shortly before her passing. It's brief, but how lovely to see and hear her speak to her millions of fans one last time. Few celebrities are as universally beloved as Betty White was, and though we knew she couldn't live forever, it would have been fun to see her celebrate her 100th birthday. Now at least we get to experience her joy and warmth one last time with a few last words.

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The airplane graveyard that 3 families call home is the subject of a stunning photo series.

From the skies to the ground, these airplanes continue to serve a purpose.

This article originally appeared on 09.18.15


What happens to airplanes after they're no longer fit to roam the skies?


An abandoned 747 rests in a Bangkok lot. Photo by Taylor Weidman/Getty Images.

Decommissioned planes are often stripped and sold for parts, with the remains finding a new home in what is sometimes referred to as an "airplane boneyard" or "graveyard." Around the world, these graveyards exist; they're made up of large, empty lots and tons of scrap metal.

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