This past Monday was the holiday commemorating Martin Luther King, Jr. and the values that he stood for. He was known for preaching and teaching racial equality and non-violence. He was courageous enough to use his gifts and strengths to work towards these goals, but his life ended tragically at the young age of 39. What he accomplished in his short life has impacted our country and way of life beyond his years.
Violence is still a serious societal issue decades after Dr. King’s life
Just this week another shooting occurred in a charter school in Philadelphia. Violence in our country still is a huge problem, and although there is much less pronounced racism, the consequences of discrimination and violence have dropped down to our children and teenagers.
Dr. King was the catalyst to many social and cultural changes in America and in the world. He was a Nobel Peace Prize winner as well as inspiration for those who were victims of racism and poverty in our country. Yet, he was often viewed as controversial, even a rebel.
I just read a quote from the Washington Post that said the following:
The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was seen by some as a radical and a troublemaker. The truth is that he had considerable faith in America. He believed that when people saw the unfairness of the caste system that had grown up in their country — in a nation founded on the principles of equality before the law, the opportunity to advance in life according to one’s merits, the right to choose the people who govern us — they would understand how truly un-American it was and it would all come to an end, and much of it has.
A catalyst for change
Celebrating of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King reminds us that in order to be a true catalyst for change, we may need to have the courage to act out of our comfort zones. Although what we face may be different in nature than those faced by Dr. King during his life, the character, tenacity and commitment is still the same. There is always risk we must consider to make the changes that will help those around us.
I know that in Philadelphia, approximately 100,000 volunteers will be working to improve neighborhoods, help the poor and the use their abilities to help those in need. Nationally, the same is happening all over our country–because of the dream and vision of one man.
Hopefully we can all take a moment, remember the message and impact of Dr. King and resolve to do our part to help those in need around us. Join those who help end the senseless violence that continues to permeate our communities.
Gerry Vassar, President/CEO, Lakeside Educational Network