In Memory of Martin Luther King Jr.

Educational tours to Washington, D.C. immerse students in the values our country was founded on. The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial is a most important site to see.

In honor of MLK Jr. Day, we wanted to highlight a recent reflection by Allison Cassie, our staff Program Coordinator.  Last spring, she led an educational tour to Washington, D.C. with a group of students from Montana.  While touring D.C. they visited an address that has historical significance in our countries quest to live out it’s values of freedom and equality.

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by Allison Cassie

Throughout the year our student travelers visit the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial at 1964 Independence Ave. in Washington, D.C.  This memorial honors a man whose values inspired a movement and whose message touched millions.  It’s difficult to walk away from this experience unmoved.  Themes of faith, justice, hope and freedom challenge us all to action.  As I reflect on the quotes cast in stone that adorn the north and south walls of the memorial, my own values are challenged.  Here are a few of those quotes that stood out to me as an educator committed to service, equality, and social justice:

“Make a career of humanity.  Commit yourself to the noble struggle for equal rights.  You will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in.”

I am reminded of the tough choices I have made along my career path, prejudices and battles with school boards, my graduate studies in social justice education and my work with migrant children and at-risk youth.  I value independence, resourcefulness, honesty and equality.  We all need guide posts to navigate the world.  When faced with a difficult decision or moral dilemma, my values are my beacons.

Have I struggled?  Absolutely.  I have also grown as a human being, forcing my values into sharper focus.  Have I made a difference?  In this moment, I doubt whether my work has affected my country or the world at large.  Is it enough to simply value equality, to impact but a few people and to change my own life?  Yes.  It’s a start.

 “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.  We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.  Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

Advocating for a group begins with advocating for yourself.  Reaching many begins with reaching few.  Big changes are born of small actions: using your voice, standing up to a bully, refusing to compromise your values for anyone or anything.  One person’s commitment to equality, to justice, to honesty indirectly affects all, and sometimes directly affects millions, as was the case with Martin Luther King Jr.  My personal commitment to these values contributes to humanity’s struggle to create a better world for all.

“I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits.”

Hope.  Have the audacity to believe.  Believe that you have the ability to affect positive change in yourself and others.  Think about your own sphere of influence and the ways you can make a difference, or read the news and follow what is going on in the world.  Perhaps you will find a cause that you could get behind. There are communities and people throughout this world that could benefit from your efforts.

Also, check out the ways you can join Global Travel Alliance through our Global Doing Good program.  We offer ways to help students and adults learn about some of the big issues in our world, and then get to work on them.  Martin Luther King Jr. stood by his values and inspired people to take action and you can too.  Today’s a good day to start.

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