by Thomas W. Schultz, Cornell undergraduate who wrote this piece for the class, Speaking Truth to Power: The Black Prophetic Voice in America (Prof. Vernon Mitchell)
Throughout the work, Dr. Martin Luther King touches on numerous subjects of vast importance in society today. One example in particular revolves around King’s views on education. King writes, “Education without social action is a one-sided value because it has no true power potential. Social action without education is a weak expression of pure energy” (pg. 164). I completely agree with this statement. Education is extremely important, yet without social action the education will not be manifested in the lives of the children whom are taught. Similarly, delivering social action without education will not allow children to develop to their full potential or “pure energy”. When King writes “Laws only declare rights; they do not deliver them,” he calls for politicians to not only develop regulations to help the education of young adults but also have a direct and involved impact on the way in which the laws are applied. In society, it is often the case that politicians act in a way that will improve an image, often forgetting about the constituents who have voted them into office. In a way, Martin Luther King Jr. prophetically calls for an end to the weak and image-driven ways in which leaders call for educational and social action and a start to more direct and driven acts.
The way in which the novel ended really caught my attention. King calls upon us to “shift from a ‘thing’-oriented society to a ‘person’-oriented society” and says that “a civilization can flounder as readily in the face of moral and spiritual bankruptcy as it can through financial bankruptcy” (pg. 196-197). King here is arguing that a “socially conscious democracy” is more important than any previous form of capitalism or communism. This is a radical idea not frequently touched upon. He is calling for a change in the way that citizens of a nation are treated in the economic and social context. The people should be of upmost importance and not the “profit motives” for which the American government can be said to attest to. I agree exactly with the message that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is conveying. The people are what make up a nation, and the people should be the ones considered when decisions are being made. King argues that America will either move towards chaos or community and that the decisions rests solely upon whether or not the people of the United States are treated in a “person-oriented” or a “profit-oriented” manner.
Without question, Dr. Martin Luther King addresses imperative problems in a society that will either move toward chaos or community. In an extremely prophetic manner, King lays out his plans for the future. King specifically challenges the educational system as well as the profit hungry motives of politicians and leaders of the United States. The novel as a whole should serves as an impetus to change in the future. Although King’s life was cut short, it can be said that his visions alone allowed African American’s to push through racial barriers and eventually rise to positions of dominance. The book serves as a foundation for change that should be read by children across the United States. The MLK Community Build will do a great job in fostering King’s knowledge in children at an early age that will only grow as the child progresses throughout his educational journey.