25th Annual Celebration of the Life and Legacy of Martin Luther
"Teaching and Learning: The Key to Full Inclusion"
"The Road is Made As One Walks"
Somewhere I once heard that "the great figures among us have been ordinary people that have done extra-ordinary things."
The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., did extraordinary things. But at the same time, and I don't think I diminish Dr. King's great legacy by saying this, he was an ordinary man. An ordinary man that did ordinary things until December 1, 1955, when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, and Dr. King, at the age of 26, and just barely out of graduate school, was placed at a crossroad along the path that constitutes human history. It was then that this ordinary man became a great figure and did extraordinary things. Robert Frost wrote, "Two roads diverged in a wood and I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference." But in recognition of Dr. King's legacy, I pose the following question, "What about when there is no road?"
Of the many lessons I've learned from Dr. King's life, high among them is the notion that each of us, in our own unique way, is embarking on a new pathway with each passing moment, venturing into uncharted territory. And while there are points and places and moments and times when our paths cross and intersect and intertwine, no two paths are alike.
The honorable Mr. Mfume has walked along a path, his own path. Professor Slocum, Mr. Williamson, and Miss Holguin have walked along their own paths, and The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., walked along his own path. So I ask the question once again, ladies and gentlemen, "What about when there is no road?" The answer, "The road is made as one walks."
Honoring the life and legacy of Dr. King means remembering that just as he walked along his path and did great things, we must walk along our path, knowing that we too can do great things. Because if we put Dr. King too high on a pedestal, or if we allow his accomplishments to become unattainable or unachievable, not only do we do a disservice to his life and his legacy, but we diminish our own capacity as ordinary people to do extraordinary things.
In the 25 years since his death, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has become an American Hero. As we remember the life and dream of Dr. Martin Luther King, we remember the injustices that Dr. King fought; his fight for freedom, equality and dignity for ALL races and people; his many speeches that awakened people to the horrors of racial discrimination; and his work that spanned and touched all minorities and motivated them to action. We remember, but we must also act on his dream. To do this, we must follow Dr. Kings example and educate ourselves. Educate ourselves on the meaning and message of such a great educator and those whom inspired him.
Martin Luther Kings ideas- his call for racial equality, his faith in the ultimate triumph of justice, his insistence on the power of nonviolence to bring a major transformation of American Society- are as vital and timely as ever. His life and teachings have had a profound influence, not only on Americans, but of people of all nations. Dr. King said. "Nothing in this world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity".
We are such a diverse, multicultural nation that we can no longer tolerate injustices based on the color of our skin. We must empower ourselves with ourknowledge and become educators ourselves to those who are ignorant.
History is still unfolding.
Our actions today will be the history of tomorrow and we must act accordingly.
We must respond to the words he preached."We are faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late". Let us not be too late. Let us all live and act by the words of Dr. Martin Luther King. Let us educate those around us of the joys of living together in harmony. And let him continue to inspire us to perform extraordinary acts of courage and perseverance just like he did when he ignited on of the most influential Civil Rights and Economic movements of the twentieth century.