A reflection from UA CEO Eshauna Smith on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: “What are you doing for others?”
It is all too easy for the turmoil and fear in our country right now to overshadow the annual celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and all that he stood for – but it’s more important than ever to pause and remember the legacy of Dr. King: a legacy of love, compassion, and service.
As a mother and as leader of a youth-serving organization, I have struggled to explain the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and too many more; to explain the disproportionate toll of this pandemic on communities of color; to explain the recent insurrection and the stark difference between the law enforcement response to the Capitol mob compared to this summer’s Black Lives Matter protestors.
But through it all, I have taken solace and inspiration from the Civil Rights movement and Dr. King. He reminded us that only light can drive out darkness. He showed us how to lead with love. His unwavering belief that the future would be brighter for Black and Brown boys and girls taught us all to dream.
Most of all, Dr. King reminded us that above all, life is about loving – and serving – our fellow man. “Life’s most persistent and urgent question,” he said, “is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”
After every setback of the past year, I have tried to live by these words, and channel my heartbreak and anger into service and love, to get up every day and rededicate myself to Urban Alliance’s mission to ensure that every young person – no matter where they come from or what they look like – has an equal chance to succeed, to hope, and to achieve economic self-sufficiency.
So this MLK Day, please take a moment to reflect on Dr. King’s legacy, and how you will serve. “No work is insignificant,” Dr King said. “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”
At Urban Alliance, we will keep moving forward, speaking up, and fighting for a more just and equitable future for youth of color – one young person at a time. And we will keep will keep challenging ourselves and our community to keep doing more, and doing better. Service is a lifelong project. Thank you for joining us on this journey.