Activism & Civil Rights Reflections Seeking Knowledge

The Pursuit of Truth: Are We Living Up to MLK and the Movement?

By Ahmed Mitiche

One of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s least known papers was an op-ed he wrote as an undergrad at Morehouse College in 1947. It was a call to question the purpose of education. I believe his call has yet to be answered.

Photo: Seattle.roamer

A recent national study, conducted annually as part of the American Community Survey, captured snapshots of undergraduate college students’ views on education. The respondents were asked to weigh different values and to rate them according to importance.

The percentage of students who found “being very well off financially” as “essential” or “very important” rose from 42 percent in 1966 to 80 percent in 2011. The percent of students who found “developing a meaningful philosophy of life” as “essential” or “very important” dropped from 85 percent to 47 percent. This trend in our views on education starkly contrasts with what King viewed as its true purpose.

King tells us that “education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction.” For our (costly) educations to be truly worthwhile, we had better begin to ask ourselves the difficult questions. What is my stance on homosexuality–both morally and legally? Why are our prisons still filled with black people over sixty years after Rosa Parks’ sit in? What is our country’s role in the Middle East? Why are we over there anyway?

If those questions make us uncomfortable, that is a good sign. King contends that to begin the journey towards finding our philosophy of life, we must discover our moral and ethical truths. Our educations must challenge us to ask the questions that are not politically correct, to question our teachers, our leaders, and our gods; it is only in the sincere pursuit of truth that we can land on “worthy objectives upon which to concentrate” (King).

There may be serious repercussions if we do not. He ends with a warning I pass on to myself, my fellow classmates, and my teachers: “If we are not careful, our colleges will produce a group of close-minded, unscientific, illogical propagandists, consumed with immoral acts. Be careful, ‘brethren!’ Be careful, teachers!”

Many of us recently celebrated MLK Day of Service with a great quote on Facebook, by volunteering for a day, or even by starting a service project. These are all great things. But to truly honor his memory and celebrate his work, it is the quest for meaning that we must all embark on together. This pursuit of meaning should enable us to question the status quo of today, not simply to remember what has already been done by greats like MLK. We must question status quos in the political sphere, the personal sphere, the religious as well as the social sphere. Our role as individuals with the potential for leadership and influence is to realize our personal duty to seek truth and meaning in our lives. It is from this platform that we can begin to change ourselves, our families, our communities, and our world for the better.


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  • To sift as a word gives meaning to finer particles being separated by means of a sieve
    Certainly,when the word ” sift” is part of the greater whole where a weigh scale
    can adopt, retain or pass substance, though what is matter when given a litmus test?
    What happens to substance when satire is not sifted and is allowed to pass
    with coarser grains thus omitting a fine toothed comb that sheds the light of
    Godly attributes to all the prophets that sift the finer grains, those pearls of
    truth that comb their way through the sieve of ethics and conduct let alone
    the etiquette of peace and blessings upon all the prophets.
    Mercy, grace and forgiveness is also counterpoint to the mesh of finer words
    spoken as filtered through the mouth and ears of Dr. Martin Luther King,Jr.
    The void of established rules of precedence echoes the voice of King
    ” If we are not careful, our colleges will produce a group of close-minded, unscientific,
    illogical propagandists, consumed with immoral acts
    Be careful ‘brethren!’Be careful,teachers! ”
    Thank you for the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

    Apart from the quotes
    written by Anthony

      • To become personal is a quest for hidden gems of truth
        Ahmed has cut the gem of persona and brightness has
        staged a wonderful shape as a member of creation.
        Shades of inner beauty held in high esteem would caption
        the metamophose of talent that draws to the designer of truth
        spellbound beyond the wings that sail the human embryo.

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