Guiding the Ship: A MLK Day Reflection

The following is a Martin Luther King Jr. Day Reflection by Hunter Robbins ’23:

“We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.” You live in America; I live in America. What you do impacts me, and what I do impacts you. Your faults hurt me, but they also hurt you. The things you do, or do not do, are what define your impact. Today is about you as much as it is about me. The things that we decide to do with our lives will determine our future: our future resides in the same boat, and it is up to us in which direction we guide that boat.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. guided our ship for many years — stretching from his birth on January 15, 1929, to his death on April 4, 1968, he purposefully and diligently spearheaded the Civil Rights Movement in our nation. To say that Dr. King fought is an understatement. This resilient leader withstood and endured the most challenging and demanding of circumstances. With spit flying across the counter, fists charging towards his face, and racial slurs bleeding through his ears, he still remembered his purpose. Being told “no” over and over again by his stubborn and stagnant opponents hurt him, but he remembered his purpose. Even after being arrested twenty-nine times, he was able to remember his purpose. He continued to remember his purpose until April 4, 1968, when one bullet removed him from this earth. His purpose is still present, but it is now our duty to pursue it.

We must now remember for him and more importantly for ourselves — through remembering his purpose of obtaining racial equality in all forms, we will keep the ship he once guided on the right path. This means we must remember the first ship, the one that arrived at the coasts of our forming nation in 1619. America’s greatest sin is one that we shall never commit, but also one we shall never forget. Lucky for us, the boat we are on now is much different than the one being alluded to.

Today especially, let us remember the entire past, including periods of slavery, segregation, and continued discrimination. In honor of Dr. King, let us remember the fight he put up for us; his ability to assume responsibility of a global issue is the same responsibility that we all need to assume together. The current state of racial affairs in our nation is far from perfect: economic and social statuses are widely disproportionate, the serving of justice when its due is severely scarce, and the trust between communities of color and their protectors continues to dwindle by the day. These problems are not Black problems, nor are they White problems; they are our problems, for “whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” Rather than divide the ship in which we all occupy, we can guide it down a path that Dr. King envisioned for our nation. We have the ability to increase racial equality in our nation, so let’s do it. As Dr. King said, “the time is always right to do what is right.”