MLK, Obama and Our Kids' Education

Writing at Beccastone, Charlayne Hunter-Gault says black children must understand that, like Martin Luther King Jr., the legions of young people who walked with him, and Barack Obama, they have no choice but to get an education. 

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Writing at Beccastone, Charlayne Hunter-Gault says black children must understand that, like Martin Luther King Jr., the legions of young people who walked with him, and Barack Obama, they have no choice but to get an education.

As I was preparing to attend the second inauguration of Barack Obama, I kept thinking how appropriate that it is taking place this time around on the same day as we mark the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. For even as a candidate back in 2008, Barack Obama talked with gratitude about "standing on the shoulders of giants." And surely, Martin Luther King stands as one of the tallest of the many giants whose courage, sacrifice and struggle helped create the path that led to Barack Obama's taking the oath of office on that cold January day in 2009, as the first Black president of the United States. And this time around, he will take the oath of office with his hand on the Bible that belonged to Martin Luther King. And while many hands, feet and brains deserve the credit for his second victory, we must never forget that we are able to sing the song of that victory today, "full of the faith that the dark past has taught us, full of the hope that the present has brought us," in the words of the song, Lift Every Voice and Sing, also known as the Black National Anthem.

I think Barack Obama was thanking those giants not only for their victorious struggle, but for their values. Values that are clearly timeless and transcendent. Values that our parents and Martin Luther King's parents taught him. Back then, when those Black parents couldn't give us first class citizenship due to the oppressive segregationist laws, they gave us something that helped us survive and conquer: they gave us a first class sense of ourselves.

And that included their insistence on getting a good education. For generations, the Black family has put a premium on education. My father remembers my grandfather telling him and his brother when they were young: Get an education, boys. Education is the key to our liberation. And in the case of my grandmother, she embraced his advice for both her children and herself, going back to school after she had her children and sitting in a third grade class with them.

Read Charlayne Hunter-Gault's entire piece at Beccastone.

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