Monday, January 20, 2014

What Martin Luther King Jr. thought about your college dream

Since the beginning of this blog Martin Luther King Jr. has been an inspiration to me. For the past month I've been reading the books he wrote and have been even more astounded by the work that he did. 

Below are three particular things that struck me recently that are poignantly relevant to your educational journey. I share them in hopes that they fuel your dreams as much as they have mine: 

1) MLK Jr. saw poverty as a big problem
Before he died MLK Jr. was leading what was called The Poor People's Campaign to help eradicate the more subtle injustices that result in poverty. Before he died he also held a meeting with people from all races and ethnicities to express their concerns about poverty and begin a plan of action.

He began to shift his efforts to creating more economic justice for all. And a core part of that plan, in addition to fair housing and jobs, was education. 

When you achieve your education you don't just do it for yourself. You are making strides for your family and for people like you. Keep going. 

2) MLK Jr. had a PhD
Martin Luther King Jr. did not stumble upon the Lincoln Memorial one day to make his iconic speech. He had been learning and studying and developing and working for years until that moment. 

MLK Jr.'s education allowed him to focus his energies above just surviving day to day, as those who are burdened by poverty must do. That is why I think it's vital for people from low-income backgrounds to achieve a great education:

So that they can break the cycles of poverty and become leaders for change, leaders for those who are still stuck.  

Your degree can help you accomplish great things. Not magically, but with hard work and dedication. It does matter and it is worth it. 

3) MLK Jr. believed in education
I want to let MLK Jr. have the final word. Below is an excerpt from a speech he gave to high school students in 1967, from the book A Time to Break Silence:

"Don't allow anybody to make you feel that you are nobody. Always feel that you count...

"Doors of opportunity are opening to each of you that were not open to your mothers and to your fathers. And the great challenge facing you is to be ready to enter these doors as they open...

"...And so our slogan must not be 'Burn, baby burn.' It must be, 'Build, baby, build.' 'Organize, baby, organize.' Yes, our slogan  must be 'Learn, baby, learn,' so that we can earn, baby earn." ("What Is Your Life's Blueprint," p. 223)

Learn, baby, learn. 

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