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Martin Luther King contributed this reminiscence dated September 7, 1962 in "A Centenary Gathering for Henry David Thoreau," a special section in The Massachusetts Review, autumn 1962 (IV:I, p. 43).

A LEGACY OF CREATIVE PROTEST
Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

During my early college days I read Thoreau's essay on civil disobedience for the first time. Fascinated by the idea of refusing to cooperate with an evil system, I was so deeply moved that I re-read the work several times. I became convinced then that non-cooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good. No other person has been more eloquent and passionate in getting this idea across than Henry David Thoreau. As a result of his writings and personal witness we are the heirs of a legacy of creative protest. It goes without saying that the teachings of Thoreau are alive today, indeed, they are more alive today than ever before. Whether expressed in a sit-in at lunch counters, a freedom ride into Mississippi, a peaceful protest in Albany, Georgia, a bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, it is an outgrowth of Thoreau's insistence that evil must be resisted and no moral man can patiently adjust to injustice.


Students! You have our permission to quote from this page by King -- provided that you acknowledge it in your bibliography as follows.

Calliope Film Resources. "Thoreau, Civil Disobedience and the Underground Railroad." Copyright 2001 CFR. http://www.calliope.org/thoreau/thurro/king.html
[And add the date on which you visited this web page.]

"The Underground Railroad": Back to Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV


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Updated Feb. 20, 2010