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Westerly Stories


Honoring MLK Day

January 21, 2019
By Dr. Plant

On the eve of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I want to take the time to reflect on Dr. King and his legacy, and to share with you my thoughts on how vital his message and mission still are to us today in 2019. Though many often cite the line, "I have a dream," to epitomize Dr. King's life and teachings, I find there is much potency and meaning to the totality of his words and actions throughout his lifetime that has helped define our role in 'being the change we want to see in the world.

In the same March on Washington address in which Dr. King fervently spoke about his dream that one day our nation would live up to its promise that "all men are created equal," he also talked about the power of now, and the power of engaging in the change we may influence. But far be it for me to paraphrase Dr. King when his powerful words continue to inspire in their original form:

"We have...come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children. It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment."

And so here we are today in 2019. Where much has been accomplished, but so much more has yet to be realized. 

I believe that together we must remain cognizant of the urgency of the moment - of THIS moment. In our government. In our schools. At our borders. In our wage gaps and gender dynamics. We, along with our children, are faced with the urgency of now every day, in every corner of our communities and in our country. As an educator, as a parent, and as a community leader, I deeply believe that the best way we can continue to honor Dr. King on the anniversary of his birth, and frankly every day, is to carry his words forward: To teach our young people the importance of staying active and engaged, and not simply to overlook the urgency of nowfor the ease of complacency. It is our duty as parents and educators to teach our children about the power of their voices, the strength of their convictions, the impact of their actions, and the need to step up as informed leaders. On Friday, we celebrated Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy with songs and guided reflection - my hope is that we continue to honor his message by facing the challenges of progress head on. And with humility and grace, all be activists for the future we want to see.