In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Day, I wanted to share an essay I wrote in 10th or 11th grade (2004-2006) for my African-American Literature class. It has been at least 10 years since I wrote this, but I think many of us are still asking the same question. Take a read and let me know if you agree.
All hands are raised in a classroom of eager students studying the subject of African-American Literature. Shifting in their desks, they fidget to suppress their contribution to the current flowing discussion. Everyone is familiar with the topic of civil rights advocates Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr., and they are all more than qualified to recite their contributions that have further shaped our country. However, no one can contribute a new fact to the exchange. Every lesson has been recycled year by year without variation thus, supplying them as a whole with information they have heard enough times since they were in the third grade they could likely repeat it in their slumber. Every lesson focuses essentially on the past, which is more than just and deserved. Still, it is important to observe that “today” is ignored. No teacher questions or quizzes their students about the revolutionary leaders of today and this is simply because the sad truth is that there are not any. Today’s society is leaderless.
Many may be quick to refute this conclusion regarding the lack of guidance in America by pointing to our government. They will pose the question, “That is leadership, is it not?” My answer: Yes it is. Nevertheless, despite all authoritative positions held by white-collar, suit-and-tie professionals, these people are generally removed from the needs of the average citizen. There is no one man or woman coming forth as the voice of the common people. We have no one to lead us in a moral manner. We have no one to faithfully follow, respect, trust, or who is absolutely passionate about his or her cause. Today’s society is crying out for a righteous revolutionary to rise up, make their voice heard, and inspire more than ever.
This seems somewhat hopeless seeing that anyone who has demonstrated promise backed by a significant following has been previously eliminated: Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. As soon as their power gains momentum, a catastrophe consequently occurs. The leader is halted from any further progress by death. In return, this not only ends someone’s life but it ends the hope within the movement and ceases advancement.
My consciousness surrounding this circumstance has led me to adopt a powerful want for change. I feel as though I cannot allow myself to proceed through life and accept what has been labeled as only “good enough.” However, I acknowledge that the only way to make a change is to first educate yourself and then educate others. Knowledge is undeniably a commanding, powerful tool that I wish to obtain. I consider it my responsibility to go out into the world and make a significant, evident change. Perhaps, I will stand behind a podium in a stadium-style seated classroom of college freshman and capture the interests of my students by removing the wool from over their eyes. I will be the bearer of truth. I will touch minds and generate a sense of hunger for improvement. Perhaps I will lead, or I will inspire and enlighten the civil leaders of tomorrow so that no one has to write another paper like this.