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The choice: MLK scholar explores King’s path

Reflections on the meaning of the civil rights leader’s life

Joshua Clark (COM'09) is a recipient of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship at Boston University

Martin Luther King, Jr., was born in Georgia, but his influence spans the entire world and reaches across generations. Every child of grade-school age has been taught about the man who led the 1955–56 Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott and whose speech on August 28, 1963, in Washington D.C., delivered a dream to the American people. He is not revered solely because of his influence, but because he made the choice to make a difference.

Making a difference is easier said than done. In a fast-paced society, many people feel they do not have time to make a change. One man, however — despite having a wife, a family, and a congregation — chose to make time to change the world for future generations. He chose to take time to organize marches. He chose to endure ridicule at lunch counters. King (GRS’55, Hon.’59) chose to share his dream with the entire world and opened our eyes to a future brighter and more diverse than anyone could imagine.

Do not celebrate this man solely for his actions; celebrate him because he sacrificed himself and made the choice to take those actions. He could have done as so many of us do and woken every morning to go to work. He could have done as so many of us do and come home to pay bills and kiss his children goodnight. He could have sat on the couch contemplating how to change the world; instead he took a stand and gave all of us the key to the door of freedom.

After studying the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi and deciding to take a nonviolent approach to the civil rights movement, King faced fire hoses and abusive police officers. He made the choice to rise above the violence, however, and fight his battle on a higher plane. He was human and made mistakes, as everyone does, but he chose to make personal sacrifices.

Contemplate the choices you make and the paths you choose to follow, and whatever choice you make, choose to sacrifice some of yourself for the good of others. Maybe one day, someone will choose to follow you.

Joshua Clark (COM’09) is a recipient of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Scholarship at Boston University.