EDITORIAL - "Our Hope"
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. ... I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. This is our hope.
We suspect Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would be very ambivalent about this past Monday. Schools were closed, on the day when our nation celebrated his legacy.
He would be ambivalent because, certainly, there was no stronger voice for the transformative power of education in America than Dr. King. Education lifted him. Education can lift everyone. Yet, education took a backseat Monday, in many places.
Not all schools were closed, of course. Many institutions of higher learning used the King holiday as it is intended, as a day of service. In 1994, Congress designated the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday as a national day of served and charged the Corporation for National and Community Service with leading this effort. Taking place each year on the third Monday in January, the MLK Day of Service is the only federal holiday observed as a day of service – a “day on, not a day off.” It empowers individuals, strengthens communities, bridges barriers, creates solutions to social problems, and moves us closer to Dr. King’s vision of a “Beloved Community.”
This information comes to us from the SC Parks Department, which had public service projects going on in locations statewide. Hundreds of other community service projects were going on Jan. 15, the King Day Holiday, and beyond, well into and past 2018. In some places, people walked together. This certainly was appropriate since Dr. King’s signature civil disobedience action was the peaceful march. Accept arrest, write letters from jail - his non-violent approach eventually fell out of favor, and our nation saw rioting and near civil war, before something akin to peace was restored.
It all came at a terrible cost.
At Presbyterian College, students and staff honored the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with January 13 and 15, and today events. People attending the women’s basketball game against Campbell University Jan. 13 were able to bring toiletries that helped those in need in the local community. A halftime performance during the game honored Dr. King. On the King Holiday, students volunteered in locations across Laurens County during the Day of Service, and a MLK Convocation featured Dr. Brian Johnson as the convocation speaker. A former president of Tuskegee University, Johnson has held several administrative and academic posts and has authored and edited seven academic and scholarly works, including two books on W. E. B. DuBois and four works on American history. Dr. Johnson’s article “A Young Man Apart, A World Apart” recounts his experience growing up in inner city Durham, NC. The PC Community is hosting a blood drive today (Jan. 17) and tonight’s Rise Against Hunger event at First Presbyterian Church in Clinton. Events were sponsored by Multicultural Programs, Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Athletics, and Religious Life and Service.
It won’t happen, in our hustle-bustle world, but perhaps the greatest thing we could do to honor Dr. King, and all civil rights pioneers, is just to stop and think about what it means to be a citizen-servant.
We might do it, think about it a minute, and go right back to the TV; but if the thought lingers, scratches the back of our mind, and at some point causes us to lift a hand to help someone less fortunate, it will be worth it.
Worth it to have just one day out of 365 when we judge each other “by the content of our character.”