Read some of MLK’S lesser-known quotes The civil rights leader and Baptist preacher delivered a universal message.
We all know that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream. But he uttered many other insightful, meaningful and inspirational quotes in his amazing but way too brief public career.
I chose three of them to share with my 11thgrade Advanced Placement English Language and Composition students and American Literature students.
Their task? Choose one and reflect on it in two or three paragraphs. What does King mean? Is he right? Can you think of examples in your own reading, observation and experience that illustrate his point?
The first quote: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’
We get so caught up in our own busy lives, but King is right — this question is persistent and ur
gent. We must stop and ask ourselves frequently and remind ourselves that the answer matters:
What are we doing for others?
The students wrote of things large and small. They mentioned feeding the homeless at a food bank, boosting a friend’s morale, taking out the trash without Mom having to ask.
They mentioned gratitude for what they have and how helping others made their own problems seem small.
The second quote: “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”
As a minister who preached the Gospel, King knew that suffering is part of life. There will be suffering, there will be failures, there will be disappointment; but we must never abandon hope.
Romans 15:13: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Hell, as Dante tell us, is where all hope is abandoned.
King’s message pertained specifically to Africanamericans and their struggle for civil rights. But it applies to anyone.
Some of the students related it to school and the disappointment of doing poorly on a test but working hard and holding on to the hope that the work will pay off on the next one.
The third quote: “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character — that is the goal of true education.”
And here you thought the goal of a true education was to fill in dots on the latest trendy standardized test.
No, it is important to know dates and events, and memorizing a passage from a speech or a poem is an invaluable skill. But it must go beyond memorization of facts.
A true education, the students noted, makes you think, makes you draw comparisons between events and situations, makes you ask questions, makes you want to learn more on your own.
And character education, though often shunned in public schools, nonetheless can be developed through the study of great figures like Martin Luther King Jr.
Study his words, study their meaning. Like we just did here on page three.
William P. Warford’s column appears every Tuesday, Friday and Sunday.