A Reflection on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day!
Shaping Young Minds:
Civil rights leaders, freedom riders, bus boycotts, voter registrations, lunch counter sit ins, non-violent protests, speeches, and famous marches are all things that may instantly come to mind when you sit and reflect on the late great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Perhaps his Letters From a Birmingham Jail, my hometown, which helped inspire a full on civil rights movement sticks out in your mind. Or is it the famous March on Washington and subsequent "I Have a Dream" speech that are highlights of his life for you?
These are all important contributors to his legacy for me as we celebrate the life of one of history's greatest minds. One cannot help but be filled with admiration for one who would pay the ultimate self-less price so that we may see a brighter future. One in which we could be judged not by the color of our skin but by the content of our character. One in which we may see our children and our children's children dare to live their wildest dreams. Had he not stood for what he believed in and ministered a word of peace, many would not be afforded the very luxuries we have today including the basic civil rights that many of us take for granted today. The ability to eat freely at dining establishments, drink from the same fountains, use of public restrooms, equal housing opportunities, freedom to get onto public transportation and sit where we want, vote freely, and send our young people to schools that will allow the equal access to education just to name a few.
However, as I sat and read some of the posts and blogs in his honor today, I could not help but be moved by his dream. It was a dream that included not only the youth of his day but those for generations to come. One that would allow them access to tools that would shape their minds and allow them to expand and be good leaders for those generations that would follow them.
This point was driven home over this past weekend at one of my book signings in my current state of Maryland. I was approached by a young teen lady who wanted to wish me luck and voice how much people like myself inspire her to press on with her dream to write. It made me think of how King's dream lives on and we as individuals owe due diligence in carrying that torch and allowing it to shine on in those generations who are looking up to us. We are stewards of a dream that we may not have lived to witness but have been exposed to nonetheless. How could you not be moved by such a huge responsibility and one of such honor?
In my opinion times, times like that moment are defining in nature. Who would know that just being at that book signing that day could be the catalyst to light a renewed fire in our youth and the fuel to encourage them to make sure the dream lives on. Personally, my advice to anyone in that situation would be to use the opportunity to reach out and help that person. What may seem like a small gesture of encouragement could go a long way in making sure the dream lives on through that person and so on. I could not express enough how much I wanted to snatch a laptop and get connected with this young lady immediately. I hope, as I sit here now reflecting on this MLK day, that she takes the information I passed on to her and connects with me so I could have the honor of following her. To have a greater tomorrow and continue to progress forward, I think it is critical to shape our young minds. They are thirsty for knowledge and in some cases just need that one person to share information with them that could be life changing. I believe if we did more in this area of helping our young people realize their potential, it would do great honor to the name and supporting the dream of one of history's greatest minds Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.