January 24, 2019
Dear Trevor Community,
As I was preparing my thoughts for this week—a week that celebrates the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.—I remembered an article that was published in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette in 2007.
Twelve years ago, at a different time and place, I expressed my frustration about the lack of fulfillment of Dr. King’s dream, and my hopes and expectations for further progress. Today, unfortunately, too many shortcomings prevail. So too, however, does my hope prevail. I remain steadfast in my belief that we owe our current students the challenge of speaking truth to power. I excerpt portions of my 2007 article in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King’s life, and in gratitude for all that Trevor students do―and aspire to do―in pursuit of his dream.
Today, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his message of nonviolence should challenge us as never before. In my years as an educator, I have come to believe in the absolute primacy of teaching nonviolence and social justice to our children.
It is not easy, however, to teach about Rev. King―or not as easy as one may think….We have too often extolled the meaning of his life while giving mere lip service to his genuine message of peace through nonviolence and love.
Where are we in the fulfillment of his dream?
While solemnly commemorating Rev. King, we continue to fall far short of his vision….While we have made progress on matters of race, and while polls demonstrate that increasing numbers of people believe in equality and fairness for all, we too often fail to recognize the deleterious effects of institutionalized racism and privilege. Too many are left with only two viable institutions that define their future: schools and prisons. When schools fail, prisons are left to grapple with the violence. And we incarcerate more people than ever before.
In popular media, television programs are known for their violence, blatant sexuality, and exploitation of women. Our news programs, once the source for information and education, have become screaming matches between opposing sides. Our leaders have seemingly abandoned civil discourse, instead working to demonize those held to be the enemy. In so many ways, we have embraced, supported, and sanctioned (both consciously and unconsciously) a culture of violence and death―while we abandon the best of our nation's own revolutionary promise.
But today, Dr. King’s message lives on as a call for action to our civic, religious, and educational leaders.
Let's take Rev. King out of the role of national icon and see him for the unique human being he was: a prophet. He drew upon the Hebrew, Christian, Muslim, Hindu traditions and championed the poor, the widowed, the orphaned, the stranger. He spoke truth to power.
As so many commentators―spanning the political spectrum—decry our present "crisis of values," it is instructive to remember that Martin Luther King, Jr. went beyond that most basic call to equality and nonviolence, to advocate for a "true revolution in values." In 1967, in his book, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?, Rev. King predicted:
"A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast between poverty and wealth....The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just. A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: This way of settling differences is not just...[it] cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love."
To be true to King's message of wisdom, justice and love, our schools bear the major responsibility to revitalize and to breathe life into his prophetic call.
All of us, as educational leaders and teachers, must recommit ourselves to creating schools where all live lives of service to others.
(Worcester Telegram & Gazette, 2007)
Head of School