We’ve heard the powerful excerpts, but when we celebrate Martin Luther King Day today in the United States, perhaps we can use our scholarly skills to uncover a bit more about the cultural, social, and political context of his work. As researchers, we are accustomed to digging below the surface, looking for clues we can piece together to understand the whole story.
I am sure we are each inspired by favorite MLK quotations; here is mine:
“In a real sense all life is inter-related. All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be…This is the inter-related structure of reality.”
It is a quote is from King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail. You can see the whole typewritten letter and listen to him reading it by logging into the The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University. Educators and parents can find curricular materials and lessons that invite young people to dig more deeply.
We might find new inspiration by reading primary source documents or listening to his speeches. Here is a link to the transcript and recording for a 1967 speech: “A Knock at Midnight.” His comments on “midnight in our social order,” the role of science to answer questions and the need for love, surely resonate today. I look forward to seeing your comments– what insights did you discover in these MLK archives?