The past year has been one of considerable change on NikeTalk, and, if you've been with us for awhile, I'm sure you'd agree that the overwhelming majority of these changes have been positive.
Unfortunately, our new, modern layout no longer affords us the opportunity to run our old Dr. King tribute banner, which we'd displayed proudly each year:
Although we can't replace the banner, I thought we might start a new tradition and mark the occasion together by discussing Dr. King's legacy in a conversation to be featured on our front page.
And, frankly, at a time when our schools are more segregated than they were in the 1960's, when over 50 million Americans live below the poverty line, when our country is still besieged by violence and hatred, this is a conversation that demands to be at the forefront.
Too often, and for too many, January 21st passes as a day of complacency and self-congratulation. And while Dr. King is justly associated with peace, "True peace," he reminded us, "is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice."
While it is certainly both necessary and vital to acknowledge the sacrifices of all those who've suffered immeasurably to help us reach this point, we cannot truly honor those sacrifices without looking into ourselves and asking how we can help build a better world.
"Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or the darkness of destructive selfishness. This is the judgment. Life's most persistent and urgent question is, What are you doing for others?"
"Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don't have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don't have to know Einstein's theory of relativity to serve. You don't have to know the second theory of aerodynamics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love."
"As long as there is poverty in the world I can never be rich, even if I have a billion dollars. As long as diseases are rampant and millions of people in this world cannot expect to live more than twenty-eight or thirty years, I can never be totally healthy even if I just got a good checkup at Mayo Clinic. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the way our world is made. No individual or nation can stand out boasting of being independent. We are interdependent."
On December 4th, 2000, almost one year after NikeTalk opened to the public, a small plaque in Dr. King's honor was placed at the Northwest end of the Tidal Basin, just a few feet from the spot of the current memorial. It's a path I've traced countless times over the years. Every time I reached that little, nondescript plaque, one so often and so easily overlooked by passersby, I would pause for a moment in reverence. Over $107 million was eventually raised for the memorial, which finally opened last August. Even before NikeTalk had the means to donate to charity, I fantasized about contributing a substantial sum to help finance the construction, so that I and future generations would have something of substance and permanence to accompany the invisible monument Dr. King's oration has created around the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. And while Dr. King is more than worthy of the grandest monument we could possibly build in his honor, I came to realize that, had he a say in the matter, he'd have greatly preferred to spend $100 million helping to realize his ideals in flesh and blood, not in granite and marble. We should be building living monuments to love, peace, and justice.
There can be no doubt that Dr. King has strongly influenced our call to service. Community is both an opportunity and an obligation.
To be at our best, we must bring out the best in each other and work together for the benefit of all.
Though it's an admittedly minor gesture, I thought today would be as good a day as any to announce our recent donation of $4,830 to the Harlem Children's Zone.
Though best associated with its Promise Academy charter schools, Harlem Children's Zone offers a suite of programs and services to residents throughout its 97 block "Children's Zone" in Harlem.
Dr. King publicly supported employment and education programs for young people in Harlem, such as those developed by Harlem Youth Opportunities Unlimited (HARYOU), an organization founded by Dr. Kenneth Clark and Cyril DeGrasse Tyson.
He expressed his support for these programs beautifully in a 1965 interview with Playboy magazine: