What does MLK’s legacy mean to you?

In a celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the UACCM faculty, staff, and students offered their thoughts on MLK’s legacy. The official holiday for his birthday is a day of service, where Americans take action to make a better community—from donating food to a pantry, to donating blood, to cleaning a park, or raise awareness of an issue through nonviolence. 

Ask yourself, “What does MLK’s legacy mean to you?” 

Gatlin Billeck, UACCM Student
That no matter what, we can always find a way to change the wrong and make it right.

Mary Clark, Director of Marketing and Public Relations
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was an inspirational and transformational leader who gave people hope that both their lives and the world could improve. He encouraged people to look into the future toward a common vision and see better things ahead through social change. His dynamic communication skills, willingness to work collaboratively with people of differing opinions, and ability to motivate people with the same goals to unite and take action resulted in the advancement of society on many levels. His peaceful, non-violent approach to activism has remained an inspiration for people over half-a-century now. One can never underestimate the power of hope and dreams.

Jared Craig, Coordinator of Information and Public Relations
Dr. King taught us that our lives should be based on love and respect for one another. One particular line in his “Letter from Birmingham Jail” always struck me: “We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.”

There were a few moments in high school where I witnessed my peers and classmates discriminate others over race or ethnicity or religion or sexual orientation. I knew it was wrong then, but I was well aware that I was vastly outnumbered and wanted to avoid being a target. I always felt ashamed for being silent. But Dr. King’s words and example by action encouraged us to be fearless at heart. We learned that when you shudder at the bad people, then you’re as voiceless as those who face discrimination. That’s our call to action.

Dr. King’s legacy teaches us that society is what we make it.

Seth Dickeson, UACCM Student
Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.

Kara Jones, Education Instructor
My favorite MLK quote is "I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear." Deciding to not let bad feelings weigh you down can sometimes be a daily affirmation. Having love in your heart frees you and allows you to live a more peaceful life. Having love in your heart also allows you to lift other people, and that is the best feeling of them all. 

Mary Newsome, Assistant to the Chancellor
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was preacher and activist who was a great leader in the Civil Rights Movement until his assassination in 1968.  

I want to begin by asking a question. “Where is the love?” I was six years old when he was assassinated.  My two younger brothers and I were outside playing when my mother called out to us to come inside because she had something to tell us. I was too young to fully understand at that time, and I had so many questions about why someone would do such a horrible thing to someone who stood for right.  

Dr. King stood against social injustice. I love this quote from him: injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. I am not Dr. King, but my brother Joe and I (and others) are still trying to carry on his legacy through the NAACP which is a civil rights organization in the United States, formed in 1909 as a bi-racial endeavor to advance justice for African Americans. We strive to seek justice for everyone, not just African Americans. 

Prayerfully, one day we will live in a nation where we will not be judged by the color of our skin but by the content of our character. Again, where is the love?  

Although Dr. King is not alive today, his legacy lives on in my heart. 

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