Reflections on the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
As a member of Parents for Public Schools – San Francisco (PPS-SF) I recently received a statement via the PPS-SF e-newsletter written by Masharika Prejean Maddison, their Executive Director in regard to the upcoming Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday. (If you did not already know, PPS-SF is an exceptional organization devoted to “assisting families and working to ensure quality public schools for all children in our city.”)
Ms. Maddison’s statement moved me because it places the discussion of racial equality in a personal context. This issue is not a black issue, it’s an American issue. And, it is one that we cannot relegate to the pages of history books. Dr. King’s work had profound personal impact in the lives of many Americans, and yet there remains much work to be done to fulfill his vision.
With the upcoming holiday almost at hand, it is important we remember the true legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and celebrate and honor it accordingly. I encourage us to look beyond an overly simplistic narrative of his legacy as one of “peace” and “service”. Rather, talk about his work in the context of “speaking out against racial and economic injustice” and “organizing to effect social change”.
Below, with Ms. Maddison’s permission, I have re-posted her statement in it’s entirety. Please share it with your friends in an effort to keep this important conversation going.
- Read Masharika Prejean Maddison’s statement (below) and talk with friends, neighbors, coworkers and family members about the true legacy of Dr. King. Honor him by educating yourself on his life’s work. As a start, you can read his original speeches and quotes. (Check out this list of 17 Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes You Never Hear.)
- See Selma (in theaters NOW!) Better yet, see it with your friends and family members. Talk with them about ways to get involved in correcting racial and social inequality going on today.
- Connect with others in your community to gain support, share knowledge and organize for positive change!
- Support organizations working to end racial injustice. Check out Black Lives Matter and Freedom Defenders.
Visit Parents for Public Schools website to learn how you can donate, volunteer and support their amazing work!
Executive Director Corner
By Masharika Prejean Maddison, the Executive Director of Parents for Public Schools – San Francisco
Like a game of telephone, my father first heard about the March on Washington through his siblings and their peers, who’d inevitably caught wind of the news through word of mouth as well. It was a muggy morning in Louisiana when my dad, along with his brother and three friends, boarded a mechanically challenged bus headed northeast for the March on Washington in August of 1963.
17 hours, 5 pit stops, and 6 states later, my father witnessed Martin Luther King, Jr. deliver his iconic “I Have a Dream Speech” along with more than 250,000 onlookers. To this day, he still talks about that blissfully uncomfortable drive to Washington, DC fondly. A reverent silence inevitably always follows when he reflects on the speech.
King’s “Dream” was one of many oratorical wonders he delivered during his lifetime. Taken too soon from this world, the celebration of his birthday and the subsequent national holiday created in his honor have become opportunities to engage in conversation about our current day’s myriad social justice entry points – be it the issue of the environment, education, gun control, health care, labor, prison reform, sexual orientation, or otherwise. Because of King’s peaceful and persistent efforts – and the subsequent policy wins achieved – we have proof beyond a doubt that there are strategic and collaborative ways of leading, learning, leaning in on the pressing social justice issues of our time.
Our collective aptitude and appetite for hard work in the name of achieving peace must be unwavering in the face of distractions and disillusionment. King paved a path toward peace, but the question now is this: literally and figuratively, are we willing to continue the march in the direction of King’s dream? For our children, our families, ourselves, and generations to come, the only answer is yes.
Masharika Prejean Maddison, ED, PPS-SF
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One thought on “Reflections on the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.”
Thank you for re-posting Ms. Maddison’s commentary, Alison. And thank you, Ms. Maddison, for sharing your father’s story. I will try my best to secure opportunities for low-income families, many of them African-American, to get at least one computer in their homes with internet access. How can any child do well in school, especially in middle through college, without one?