"It's important for me to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day because he showed us that everyone deserves equal rights,” said 5th grader Eliana B. from KIPP Scholar Academy. “He fought for you and me,” she emphasized.
The Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service (MLK Day) is the only federal holiday that is also designated by Congress as a national day of service – a "day on, not a day off." It is a defining moment indeed as "participation in service activities has grown each year,” reported by the U.S. Department of the Interior, people are taking action “to provide meaningful change in their communities."1
For example, KIPPster Eliana shared, "I am and love being involved in my community. I am part of many programs in and outside of KIPP SoCal that have helped me continue to develop my leadership skills. One of those programs is Girl Scouts. While in Girl Scouts, I have beautified many park areas. I have also helped younger girls in my community develop important life skills such as cooperation, inclusion, and resilience.”
In honor of Dr. King’s legacy, our student Eliana B. along with four KIPPsters from across the country (Israelle, Jurnee, Michael and Shiloh) are reciting an excerpt from one of his most iconic speeches delivered on the steps of the State Capitol in Montgomery, Alabama in 1965 — “How Long? Not Long”
"I know you are asking today, 'How long will it take?' Somebody’s asking, 'How long will prejudice blind the visions of men...?'
I come to say to you this afternoon, however difficult the moment, however frustrating the hour, it will not be long, because truth crushed to earth will rise again.
How long? Not long, because no lie can live forever.
How long? Not long, because you shall reap what you sow.
How long? Not long:
Truth forever on the scaffold,
Wrong forever on the throne,
Yet that scaffold sways the future,
And, behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow,
Keeping watch above his own.
How long? Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.
How long? Not long, because:
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He has loosed the fateful lightning of his terrible swift sword;
His truth is marching on.
He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment seat.
O, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! Be jubilant my feet!..."3
Dr. King’s work and words definitely continue to inspire the work we do together to build a future without limits! Coretta Scott King said, "The greatest birthday gift my husband could receive is if people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds celebrated the holiday by performing individual acts of kindness through service to others."4
On that note, our young student stated, “As I continue to grow, I will continue to be a strong advocate for my community, families, and children to have a better tomorrow ... to help realize the Beloved Community.”
In Dr. King's words: "It is this type of spirit and this type of love that can transform opponents into friends. It is this type of understanding goodwill that will transform the deep gloom of the old age into the exuberant gladness of the new age. It is this love which will bring about miracles in the hearts of men."
To learn more about Dr. King's Legacy, read about The King Philosophy and Beloved Community.
1. U.S. Department of the Interior: Office of Civil Rights. MLK Day of Service. Retrieved from www.doi.gov.
2. U.S. Department of the Interior: Office of Civil Rights. MLK Day of Service. Retrieved from www.doi.gov.
3. Voices of Democracy. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “How Long? Not Long” (25 March 1965). Retrieved from voicesofdemocracy.umd.edu.
4. U.S. Department of the Interior: Office of Civil Rights. MLK Day of Service. Retrieved from www.doi.gov.