Last Monday, I had the opportunity to attend the Martin Luther King Jr. Civil Rights Lecture that was held in Dimnent Chapel. The speaker, David Paul, is a Hope alum and, fun fact: he is the youngest speaker to be asked to speak at the MLK Lecture! He presented his lecture entitled, “Dare to Be BOLD,” in which he spoke about Dr. King in his early life and the struggles he faced as he spoke out against injustices he witnessed. Those who were planning on attending the lecture were encouraged to read Dr. King’s “Letter from Birmingham” in advance. I have to admit, I didn’t find it easy writing this post, not because I didn’t want to write it, but because I wanted to take the time to reflect on what was said.
In his lecture, Paul spoke about Dr. King when he was in his twenties, before he became one of the most prominent leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. During this time, Dr. King was pursuing his graduate studies at Boston University, where he later earned his doctorate in systematic theology. He often referred to Boston as his second home, as that was the place where he also met his future wife, Coretta Scott. So then, what would drive a man to leave a place of comfort, pack up his things, and relocate his family to Montgomery, Alabama? This was the question Paul asked us, and it made me ask myself: how far I am willing to surrender myself to His call and surrender my life? Paul also touched on the importance of vulnerability in this kind of situation. He spoke about how vulnerable Dr. King must have been to have made that decision that would forever alter the course of his life. It was not an easy road for Dr. King, who was just as human as the rest of us, a person who had flaws and faced pain and suffering.
Paul encouraged us to join him on his “King year 2016,” by presenting us a “3-point challenge,” which includes the following:
- Identify who you are
- Develop some substance
- Light up the Tower of Hope
Now is the time to think about how you view yourself and whether or not your identity is rooted in something other than the surface level. Paul gave a funny example of his own by talking about how he became obsessed with growing and maintain a mustache in college. One day, some of his buddies held him down and tried to shave it off, but he managed to break free. It wasn’t until later that he realized how wrapped up he was in his image that he didn’t see how he was neglecting those around him. It was a powerful statement to think about how we view ourselves and how we want to represent Christ in our everyday lives. What is really important, Paul said, is how we treat others and how we give back to our communities.
It’s also important that you start reflecting on what you have done with your time on campus. As a senior, my time right now is focused on polishing off my resume and making sure all of my accomplishments and achievements are recorded down on one sheet of paper. But when I look at each one, I ask myself, was I engaged in each of these activities? Did I put my time and effort into everything I did? Paul spoke about how we should, as students, broaden our worldview, especially here on campus. It’s important that we hear out different perspectives, different views from those who come from different cultures and backgrounds. In the words of David Paul, “It’s time to start digging our roots in the soil of Hope.”