“The Fierce Urgency of Now”
This week and next, students across GFPS will be learning about Martin Luther King Jr. as we prepare to celebrate his birthday with celebrations across our community. Given that there is no school next Monday, I hope that you can take a moment to reflect on the work of this great man.
Last year, I had the privilege of giving the keynote address as the Mount Olive Christian Fellowship’s annual MLK celebration. I have excerpted a portion of my speech below and hope that you take a moment to peruse the entire piece. Here’s a bit of what I said:
We look to Dr. King and his teachings. We turn to his words in 1967 when he t told us about “The Fierce Urgency of Now!” Dr. King said, in 1967, “We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with a lost opportunity. The tide in the affairs of men does not remain at flood – it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is adamant to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words, ‘too late’.”
I can’t let myself believe it’s too late. I have to believe in the urgency of now. So what is today’s “now?” We have expanded the concept of civil rights to beyond that of race. It is now one of ethnicity. It is now one of gender. It is now one of love and marriage. It is now one of creed and religion. Civil rights is now about a plethora of characteristics that differentiate us, and unfortunately divide us.
Despite our progress, if Dr. King were here today, he would remind us that there’s still much work to be done. He would urge us to work harder to ease discord and to fight injustice in our communities. And he would lead us to bring an end to the culture of violence tearing communities apart across not just our nation, but our globe. And he would urge us to not procrastinate, to not hope someone else will solve our problems, to not bury our heads in the sand. He would demand that we take action.
So we must ask ourselves today, right now, what action should we take? Where can we reject despair and turn to hope? How can we make Dr. King’s calls for justice, equality and opportunity be a reality for all our people? In my mind, there is one thing that has great potential to do all that and more, and that’s the institution of public education. That’s right, public education is an entity that has the horsepower to make a difference. Public education is a synonym for hope. Only by educating our citizens can there be any hope to face our nation’s challenges to ensure civil rights for us all…
To read the speech in its entirety, click here. Perhaps there is a snippet of inspiration that speaks to you as we celebrate this great man. Thank you for sharing Dr. King’s messages this week, next week and every day of the year. Thank you for being a part of the one entity that can make change happen.
Take care. Be safe. Stay well.