Global change starts at a local and personal level, according to Martin Luther King III.
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a first step,” King said to the collected SUNY Canton audience. “We can be part of the change or we can choose not to be a part of it.”
King, the eldest son of famed civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr., was the featured speaker for Black History Month at the College. His inspirational speech advocated education, affordable health care, and high qualities of life while encouraging a modest lifestyle in order to obtain personal satisfaction. “We spend our time learning how to make a living, but if we spent our time making a life we would have no trouble making a living,” he said.
He mentioned his father’s vision and referenced the famed “I have a dream” speech delivered August 28, 1963 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. According to King, there are three evils that the nation must overcome: poverty, racism, and militarism. He said despite tremendous strides, that his father’s vision and his dream had not yet been fulfilled.
His lecture resonated with college students and the greater community alike. Student Cooperative Alliance President Jennifer P. Bernadotte said that hearing King speak profoundly impacted her view on her personal life. “He encouraged me to stride for more accomplishments in my own life, to be my best.” she said. “It was the experience of a lifetime.”
King also advocated social involvement and support for global efforts, including relief for Haiti. “I don’t know that we’ve seen a tragedy in this hemisphere quite like the one in Haiti,” he said. “Yet somehow you see Haitian people overcoming these incredible odds. It is amazing to see these people, who basically have nothing, and yet somehow are so thankful that they were somehow spared even though they have to start all over again. It should really be an inspiration to all of us.”
As the founding president and chief executive officer of Realizing the Dream, Inc., King strives to continue the work started by his parents. His presentation at SUNY Canton was an outreach effort to continue his family’s legacy and vision.
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