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“We cannot walk alone.”

President's Blog | Wednesday, Apil 4, 2018

MLK March

Fifty years ago today Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. The day before he delivered his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech. In this speech he said “I would turn to the Almighty and say, ‘If you allow me to live just a few years in the second half of the 20th century, I will be happy.’” Imagine.

Among the many remarkable facts of Dr. King’s legacy is that his international impact occurred over a span of only 13 years. He was just 26 when he was called upon to lead the bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama after the arrest of Rosa Parks. He was taken from us on that Memphis evening at the age of 39.

The images from the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963 have become iconic symbols of the civil rights movement. A quarter million people heard Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech that day. There are countless noteworthy quotes from this landmark speech. One that resonates with me is his simple phrase “We cannot walk alone.”

Dr. King’s speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial was about a month before the first class at the Columbus Area Technician School in September 1963, which later became Columbus State Community College. I’ve always been drawn to the fact that the civil rights movement and the rise of the community college have followed the same historical arc. This is not a coincidence. In many ways, the inclusive nature of community colleges embody the spirit of “we cannot walk alone.” It was true in 1963 when Columbus State started serving our community. It’s truer today.

In his March on Washington speech Dr. King also referred to “the fierce urgency of now” and the “urgency of the moment.” I’m always inspired by my conversations with so many of our faculty and staff who are poised to respond to the needs of our students. It often has an urgent tone to help an individual student at that moment in time. The ethic at Columbus State to “help the student in front of you” honors Dr. King’s urgency of the moment.

Of course, Dr. King is right. We cannot walk alone. We need each other. And our students and our community need the collective impact we bring – together – now more than ever. I’m grateful to be walking this journey with this community.



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