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Be the best you can be

On Monday, Jordan and I had the pleasure of attending a program about the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at our local library. Greg Kenney, from Educate Us Productions, acted as both narrator and Dr. King during the presentation.

Prior to that evening, I knew very little about Dr. King, other than he fought for racial injustice and was tragically killed when he was very young. When I was in school, we did not talk about MLK, probably because we never made it to the '60s in our U.S. history class. And Martin Luther King Jr. Day was not made a national holiday until the mid '80s, and even then, not all states celebrated it.

But now that I am an adult, I am very interested in social studies and history. I first heard MLK's "I Have a Dream" speech when I played it for my speech communications class in the mid '90s. I was so moved by it and still am. To this day, my eyes well with tears whenever I hear certain lines from it. Mr. Kenney's program at the library went beyond that, as he drew us in and helped me learn even more about Dr. King.

The two things from the presentation that really hit a cord with me were Dr. King's non-violence activism and lines from a poem that Dr. King recited during at least one of his speeches.

The non-violence was very important to me since Jordan had just learned about Dr. King in school that week before. She told me she hated the people who killed Dr. King and others. I could certainly understand her sentiment; I am sure she is not alone. But I tried to explain to her that we should not hate "bad" people; rather, we should pray that they change. So I was especially glad to hear the very engaging Mr. Kenney talk about how Dr. King supported and was part of peaceful protests, and I nudged Jordan, to be sure she was listening.

The other sentiment that I really liked from the program was the following poem, from which Mr. Kenney read. After doing a bit of research, I am unsure if Dr. King wrote the words. But I still find them to be very significant, and they no doubt moved the students who heard him speak.

If you can't be a pine on the top of the hill,

Be a shrub in the valley---but be

The best little shrub at the side of the hill;

Be a bush if you can't be a tree.

We can't all be captains,

We've got to be crew.

There's something for all of us here;

There is big work to do, and there's lesser to do

And the task we must do is the near.

If you can't be a highway, then just be a trail,

If you can't be the sun, be a star;

It isn't the size that you win or you fail---

Be the best of whatever you are.

As the program wrapped up. Mr. Kenney told the kids in the audience to walk into school the next day, with their heads held high, striving to be the best they can be. I can only everyone felt as inspired as I did. As important, I hope Dr. King's dream is truly realized.


Sherri said…
Thanks for posting these words. Inspiring....

This is a new look for your blog too, isn't it? Like it.
Mel said…
never heard/read that little poem. very nice! and I am still learning the lesson you're teaching Jordan... ; )
Facie said…
Glad you both liked the poem.

And, yes, Sherri, I try to change up my blog a few times a year.

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