Applying Martin Luther King’s Teachings to College Activism

Applying Martin Luther King’s Teachings to College Activism

Last month we celebrated the second inauguration of President Barack Obama, and Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday. In a fitting tribute to King’s legacy, Obama’s speech focused on social movements and activism. While these figures have made change on a large scale, it is important to remember that we all possess the ability to make a difference. The best way we can honor Dr. King is to incorporate his teachings into our lives. His beliefs are great guidelines for the college activist.


“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

While changes you attempt to bring about at your school may seem small on a national scale, it is important to remember that the best way to make large gains is to start small. If you can make your school more open and accepting, it will breed people who will echo these ideas in their lives and the workplace. It is also important to remember that the characters of small communities shape the greater character of the nation. For those looking to make change worldwide, it is crucial to remember that we are all connected.            


“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

Whether you are working towards reducing waste in your school or ending rape culture, the road to your goal will be filled with setbacks. It is important to accept these, but not give up. It is likely that you will have to approach your goal from multiple angles, and this can get exhausting. However, to succeed, you must retain your belief in your goal, and hope for change.


“I have decided to stick to love…Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

With any goal you set, you are likely to meet opposition. It is important to not allow your anger towards the opposition to overwhelm you. The best way to bring about change is through education, rather than anger. This of course, is much easier said than done. People are more likely to listen if you present your opinions and goals calmly. Anger can exhaust you, and distract your energy away from your goals.


“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

If you feel fruitless in your attempts and burnt out, remember this. If you do not speak out, how can you expect others to do so? Activism can be difficult and ridden with challenges, but remaining passive is dangerous.


“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way”

Just because you may not be able to single-handedly eradicate racism, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t attempt to change people’s attitudes. Recognize that small acts are incredibly valuable. Everyone can do something to bring about their vision, whether it is a more inclusive campus, or a country with equal opportunity for all. After all, the two aren’t mutually exclusive. When looking at a school, if you do not see large activist presence, don’t write it off entirely. Schools that are known for activism do possess strength in numbers, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t bring activist spirit into a new place. Consider researching the possibility of starting clubs at schools you are applying to. You may be the spark that ignites revolution!