How Martin Luther King Jr. inspired me: A Yale perspective

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, YaleNews asked members of the campus community to share their favorite quote from the civil rights leader or tell us how he inspired them. Here’s what they said:


Drew Days

Alfred M. Rankin Professor Emeritus of Law and
Professorial Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School

“I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history. I refuse to accept the idea that the ‘isness’ of man’s present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal ‘oughtness’ that forever confronts him. I refuse to accept the idea that man is mere flotsam and jetsam in the river of life, unable to influence the unfolding events which surround him. I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.”

— Martin Luther King Jr.

Anthony Webb ‘13 M.B.A.

“The great Dr. King once said: ‘The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character — that is the goal of true education.’ My wish that is we all continue to embrace the history of this great nation so that we have a strong understanding of our roots, and that we open our minds and hearts to find innovative ways to support one another as U.S. citizens and as a global community which can hopefully lead to peaceful resolutions and greater justice and equality for all.”

Chris Gobrecht

Head Coach
Women’s Basketball

“In my life’s work as a coach of women’s basketball, I have often seen and experienced the discrimination that hides so easily behind the status quo. Bringing about necessary laws is only part of the fight. It is incumbent upon those of us who needed the laws in order to have our chance, to then go about changing hearts and minds with the opportunities given us. Dr. King is an inspiration for me and he should be the model for all persons in the fight against discrimination of any kind.”

Sharon Kugler

University Chaplain

“There is much that feels quite bleak in our world today. The violence that we witness both nearby and far away feels as though it is nearly breaking us as a human family. What is the way forward? Dr. King wrote, ‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.’ We must be people of light and love.”

Tapley Stephenson ‘14

Editor in Chief
Yale Daily News

“Even the press, the classroom, the platform, and the pulpit in many instances do not give us objective and unbiased truths. To save man from the morass of propaganda, in my opinion, is one of the chief aims of education. Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction.”

– Martin Luther King Jr.

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