As a second-generation Chinese-American, Eric Liu said he has a heightened awareness of every opportunity he’s been given, and the obligations that come with those opportunities — a worldview he hopes to instill in all United States citizens.
The Rev. Robert Franklin remembers the exact instant his life veered into spiritual territory.
Martin Luther King Jr. believed that the triple threat crippling the American economy — racism, poverty and militarism — is also jeopardizing our democracy.
A Raisin in the Sun is an American story. A story about family, generational change, ambition — and racial discrimination. Chautauqua Theater Company’s production of Lorraine Hansberry’s play represents several firsts. It’s the first time a black female playwright will be produced in Bratton Theater. It’s also the first time that CTC’s conservatory features more than 50 percent non-white actors.
Jim Daniels brings a group of this year’s winners to Chautauqua to share and discuss their writing. The presentation will take place at 12:15 p.m. today at the Literary Arts Center.
The phrase “black theology” appeared in the national conversation during the 2008 presidential race, when a video clip of President Barack Obama’s former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, began to circulate. The video showed Wright delivering a sermon to his congregation at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, at one point shouting “God damn America.” What resulted was a barrage of attacks on the would-be president and his pastor.
“For those who were beginning to open themselves up to the idea of a President Obama, this strange black theology and this barely understood black church was most unwelcome in the new post-racial America some believed had suddenly emerged,” said the Rev. Raphael Warnock, senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.
I am not a radical, but I lived through radical changes. Radical changes are exciting for the old and intoxicating for the young. I was lucky to be in Washington in the summer of 1963 when a quarter of a million black Americans marched for freedom and justice. I marched with them to the Lincoln Memorial and heard Martin Luther King uplifting them with his “I Have a Dream” speech, talking like an Old Testament prophet.
Also uplifting them were groups of young marchers carrying banners saying where they came from. The marchers from the really tough places — Birmingham, Ala., and Albany, Ga. — where the battles for civil rights had been raging, were very young, hardly more than children. In the toughest places, people with family responsibilities could not afford to take chances. From those places, only young people came. Most of them had never been away from their homes before. They had been fighting lonely battles. They had never known that they had so many friends. They looked like the hope of the future as they danced and sang their freedom songs with bright faces and sparkling eyes.
In Week Seven’s second Interfaith Lecture on the theme “Creating Cultures of Honor and Integrity,” Ambassador Andrew Young discussed his own personal experiences promoting change, and his ideas for ensuring that we build a country and a world that “feeds the hungry, clothes the naked, heals the sick and sets at liberty those who are oppressed.” Young’s speech was titled “I Dream of a World — That Works!”
Young is the United States’ former ambassador to the United Nations, a former congressman and former mayor of Atlanta. He has written two books, A Way Out of No Way: The Spiritual Memoirs of Andrew Young and An Easy Burden: The Civil Rights Movement and the Transformation of America; he is co-author of Walk in My Shoes: Conversations between a Civil Rights Legend and his Godson on the Journey Ahead. During his lecture, he used his many life stories and experiences to guide his speech.
Freeman Hrabowski remembers growing up in Birmingham, Ala., and discovering two major sources of inspiration in his life at about the same time — the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and algebra.
One of the students who marched in the 1963 Children’s Crusade for civil rights, Hrabowski recalls being most inspired by King’s statement that a human has the ability to shape his or her own destiny.
“At the same time, I was learning algebra and beginning to understand how important math was to the education process — what we do in education, quite frankly, and what we do in life,” Hrabowski said.
Hrabowski, a 2012 Time 100 “Most Influential People in the World” honoree, will speak at 10:45 a.m. Friday in the Amphitheater to close the week of lectures themed “Inspire. Commit. Act.”
Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa, Jonas Salk, Clara Barton. Those are hallowed names of people who live in our historical imagination. Yet none of them held elected office. None of them ran corporations or made millions of dollars.
Although our society admires celebrity and material reward, those whom we most revere give of themselves and make a difference for others. The problem is that those iconic figures have become so lionized that it can seem impossible to aspire to be like them. They seem to be of another world, one of superheroes and saints. Yet the transformations they achieved — in the world and in themselves — are within our reach.
I have seen firsthand that ordinary people are capable of superhero-like accomplishments. My hope is that my speech today prompts you to believe that you can, in the words of Gandhi, “be the change you wish to see in the world.”
We live in a world of self-help, but the most profound and fundamental way to help ourselves lies in our ability to reach out and help others — to extend beyond our own needs to support those around us. There is a profound truth in Dr. King’s familiar pronouncement that “everybody can be great because everybody can serve.” Service is the great equalizer. We each have remarkable gifts and discover our greatest selves when we reach out beyond ourselves.