On MLK’s Legacy: More Than Words, Action

As we return from observing the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., like many organizations, we are preparing to honor his legacy. This Thursday at 7pm in the Arts Complex Theatre on the Macon Campus, one of our student organizations—Black Student Unification—will host an event to celebrate Dr. King.

In February, we will once again host activities related to Black History Month, such as a student trip to the Tubman Museum and a Spotlight on African-American Achievement on our Warner Robins Campus. In addition, the theme of our upcoming Student Leadership Conference will be Leadership, Diversity, and Career Readiness.

Meanwhile, the Faculty Senate is preparing to review the report and recommendations generated by a Diversity Ad Hoc Committee comprised of faculty, staff, and student members in the Fall of 2016.

While annual observances and committee work are important, it is also appropriate to reflect on one of Dr. King’s most famous quotes. “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” he said to an audience in Alabama in 1957.

At a time of year when many are focused on personal goals and resolutions, Dr. King’s admonition reminds us that our most rewarding experiences—particularly in a community of learners—happen when we do for others. Doing for others changes our perspectives, as we try to view circumstances from a different point of view.

Doing for others allows us to identify and grow our strengths, as we bring our talents to bear on shared challenges. And doing for others expands the value of all that has been done for us, as we pay forward the wisdom and compassion of those who paved our way.

We may not all have the profound impact on history that Dr. King has had, but his commitment to doing for others long-preceded his fame. As early as 1947 at Moorehouse College, his call to action was clear. As he told their student newspaper, The Maroon Tiger, that year at the tender age of 18: “Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.”

He understood, fundamentally, what we are all here to do. As we celebrate Dr. King’s legacy, let us take his words to heart and turn them into action.

We live still in tumultuous times, when injustice and anger appear present across many demographics and groups in American society.  Dr. King, and his spiritual benefactor, Mohandas Gandhi, taught us that non-violence and dialog is the path forward in search for justice and truth.