To Democracy Prep Friends, Family, DREAM Team, and Our Community:
Martin Luther King Jr. is a giant in American history, as he should be. Everyone knows about Martin Luther King Jr.’s history-making “I Have a Dream” speech. What is sometimes forgotten about his legacy is that in his time, he was viewed as a radical.
Today, most Americans have a positive view of Martin Luther King Jr. but this was not the case when he was alive. According to a 1966 Gallup poll, nearly two-thirds of Americans– 63%– had an unfavorable view of Martin Luther King Jr. This almost seems unfathomable given his status as an American hero today.
But it is a reminder that challenging the status quo for something you know is right is not easy. Being told over and over that you are asking for too much, dreaming too big, or fighting too hard doesn’t make any of those criticisms true. Some may see the work we do at Democracy Prep– giving our scholars a world-class education so they can thrive in college and become leaders in their communities– as radical. Some may think we are pushing too hard, expecting too much, or ignoring our painful history and the long-lasting ramifications of slavery, racial discrimination, and poverty when we push for rigor or demand the high achievement of all of our scholars now. But we are doing this work so that a generation from now (or hopefully sooner!) it’s the norm in our country, not a radical idea. We are doing this work because we have a deep respect for the brains of the low-income predominantly black and brown students we educate.
I am grateful for Martin Luther King Jr.’s powerful courage and leadership. I’m also glad that as Americans we have come to recognize how worthwhile his cause was and celebrate it with a holiday where we can take the day to volunteer, spend time with our family, or reflect on how we can honor his legacy.
Please enjoy a day dedicated to honoring his legacy and please take some time to relish the word “radical” in the context of the work we do.
CEO of Democracy Prep Public Schools