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Mind-Map Central  |  English Language

If you can’t fly, then run

Origin  Martin Luther King Jr. used this phrase in a speech at a college rally when he said: «If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.» He was motivating the youth to move forward and fight for their rights.

Meaning  Generally, it conveys a message of perseverance in life to achieve one’s goals. Martin Luther King Jr. used Gospels as a model to express his ideas. He wanted students to get involved in active yet peaceful demonstrations.

Usage  The phrase has become a very famous quote. It is a highly motivational line that is usually found in written works, offices, every day and political speeches. For instance, parents and teachers often deliver this line to their children and students as a piece of advice, so that they should not give up or should not become hopeless no matter how tough their life may become.

Literary source  The exact origin of the phrase is not known, though it is reported that it appeared in Isaiah for the first time, but later Martin Luther King used it in his famous speech at a Spelman College rally, in 1960. He did not want people to think about impossibilities; rather, he inspired them to focus on possibilities.

Analysis  As a leading figure in the Civil Rights Movement, Martin Luther King encouraged African Americans to keep their determination high, regardless of what their limitations were. People needed not to worry about what they could not do, instead they should focus on doing what they could do. The words fly, run, walk, and crawl symbolize perseverance.

Photo: Memphis, 1968.



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