“I must confess that I am not afraid of the word ‘tension.’ I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth.
Though I was initially disappointed in being characterized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter, I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: ‘Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.’ Was not Amos an extremist for justice: ‘Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.’ Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: ‘I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.’ Was not Martin Luther an extremist: ‘Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise, so help me God.’
So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or will we be extremists for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or will we be extremists for the cause of justice?”
(Excerpts from MLK Jr.’s "Letter from Birmingham Jail")