The night before he was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his I’ve Been to the Mountaintop speech. Of the many great passages, the one that stands out the most for me is: "Be true to what you say on paper!”
On paper, I care deeply about supporting schools.
Years ago, my oldest daughter joined the high school Color Guard team. I quickly learned that the school’s Marching Corps was facing a lot of challenges – including how the school administration didn’t allow equal access to the facilities. Varsity sports and drama events were granted priority. Additionally, there was unequal distribution of state funds, benefiting sports to the detriment of the arts. I knew this was wrong and that it unfairly affected my child and others. Things needed to change. The question was, what was I going to do about it? How could I make an impact?
My first step was to join the Band Booster Board to understand the what, why, and how. I started brainstorming ways I could have an influence. How could I bring forth the change I desired?
Things needed to change. The question was, what was I going to do about it? How could I make an impact?
After the first year as a booster member, I took on additional roles, such as the Color Guard Parent Liaison and Webmaster. These roles allowed me to engage more parents, boost volunteer participation, and promote the Corps' wins to the broader community. I also used these roles to share the band’s financial challenges and activities. Based on my regular communications, various donations from local business started rolling in, and there was heightened attention for future fundraising opportunities. I was beginning to make progress.
I was being true to what I said on paper.
Moving forward, I became President of the Band Booster Board and a member of the School Site Council. With this position, I had the privilege of monthly face-to-face interactions with the principal and administrators of the high school. I was holding the key parties accountable – pressing them to discuss the problems and to honor their commitments. To be true to what they say they are doing on paper.
My efforts led to many victorious battles, such as the school granting equal access to the facilities and bus transportation being donated to the Marching Corps. When I left the board, I knew my work would have to carry on long after I was gone for my goals and dreams to be attained. Much like the legacy of Dr. King, the war at my daughter's school rages on. The guiding light? Be true to what you say on paper, and expect the same from others.
I was holding the key parties accountable – pressing them to discuss the problems and to honor their commitments. To be true to what they say they are doing on paper.
As individuals, we all can do our part to change the world. Each one of us has things we’d like to change or improve. Whether you’ve written these desires on actual paper, or if your thoughts rest on the figurative papers in your mind, I challenge you to remain true to them. What’s important to you? What do you have written on paper (literally or figuratively) and how are you being true to that? How can you follow Dr. King’s direction and help make the changes you’d like to see?
As individuals, we all can do our part to change the world. Each one of us has things we’d like to change or improve.
If you are concerned about the homeless population, when was the last time you volunteered your time? If education is important to you, do you attend PTA meetings? If you think processes within your team or organization could improve, have you spoken up during team meetings? If you truly feel Symantec should be a more diverse organization, have you joined one of the seven Employee Resource Groups? Have you submitted a referral that would help the company reach their Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion goals? If you see something, say something, then do something.
In the pursuit of making change, there will be road blocks – challenges that make your goal appear unattainable. It’s been said, “Difficult takes a day, impossible takes a week”. Dr. King’s dream is still in progress. As a nation, we are still striving towards his vision. As an individual, you can play a part toward broader goals that you’re passionate about. Every journey starts with that first step.
By putting forth the time and dedication, we as individuals can achieve anything. If we're true to what we say on paper.
Read the full transcript and audio of Martin Luther King Jr.'s I've Been to the Mountaintop speech here.
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