As we head toward the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday next Monday, I want to try to connect ourselves more deeply to this iconic American leader. We do well this week and every week to discover new ways that King can live on not only in our memories but in our actions moving forward.
As I’ve said before many times, for me Dr. King was one of the most masterful writers we have in American literature. King raised the essay to a work of art, which is to say, a work of truth. It’s worth noting that in his letters King describes how he first struggled as a student and a writer at Morehouse College. Let this serve as inspiration to our basic skills students and teachers. King still teaches us that good writing is rooted in good purposes, in one’s motive to express ideas that can serve others. Good writing is not merely technical proficiency. Writing is thinking. Writing is ideas. Writing expresses a moral imagination.
My reference to a moral imagination leads me to my second connection to Dr. King, and that is as a man of the church, a man of faith. In the many references to King this week he will be invariably termed a “civil rights leader”. Like his daddy, King was a preacher, an ordained minister. He became involved in the bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama because he saw it as an essential part of his responsibility as a preacher. In my humble view, to understand King requires that we go to church–literally. King twice preached in Pasadena at Friendship Baptist Church on Dayton Avenue, in 1958 and 1965. This gives me an opportunity to thank my colleagues who have taken me to Sunday services at Friendship Baptist Church where I found Dr. King to be quite alive.
Dr. King taught hope. Hope is rooted in the faith of “taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase”. Courage is discovered not only in heroic actions but in common cause. Our common cause at PCC is our mission, rooted in social justice, that every individual deserves the opportunity for a quality college education and a share in the American Dream. Let us honor Dr. King by taking that first step today and every day, confident we are moving toward a bright future for all.
Congratulations on a very successful first week of the Spring semester! I’m especially grateful to the faculty for adding students and the staff for guiding students to classes. We have added hundreds of classes and the result has been a very smooth start of the semester. During this second week and every week, please let me know if I can help you in any way.
In hope and heart,