In a pivotal moment, standing in front of 250,000 people at the Lincoln Memorial on Aug. 28, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. was delivering a well-structured speech when Gospel singer, Mahalia Jackson called out, “Tell them about the dream Martin!”
With that, King stopped.
“I have a dream…,” he responded.
Abandoning his well-written speech, King delivered one of the most powerful oratories in human history. King is remembered for the spontaneous expression of the fire burning inside him, not for the prepared speech from which he departed.
Thirty years ago, in 1984, the Associated Students of Lane Community College founded the first Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration in the Eugene area.
As part of Lane’s 50th Anniversay Celebration The Torch would like to honor this once ordinary man who, on Oct. 14, 1964, only five days before the founding of the college, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
We tend to forget that larger-than-life famous people were once just one of the crowd. Their lives progress slowly, as they do for most of us. Then, sometimes an unexpected event brings forth a response from them, and their anonymity is gone forever. Such is the nature of pivotal moments – they alter the course of a persons life, and they can change the trajectory of history.
Students attending community colleges often live in difficult circumstances. Progress can seem slow, and life can feel overwhelming. However, there’s something in the human spirit that keeps pushing them forward.
The college too is facing challenges – our budget crisis is far from over. But, let’s not forget that a college is made up of individuals – just ordinary people. At any moment, circumstances may conspire to bring forth from anyone of us spontaneous and inspired actions that will propel us all forward.
There is no way of knowing how or when this might happen; pivotal moments are unique and unexpected. They evoke free-spirited, authentic responses which accelerate progress.
As we celebrate Lane’s 50th year, let’s remember that the inextinguishable human spirit for which King is remembered resides within us all.