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How Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Informs SEED Work
By SEED Co-Director Gail Cruise-Roberson.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. left a broad legacy of justice that still echoes today. One way to contemplate the values of his life is through a SEED (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity) lens. The work we do as SEED leaders is informed by some key principles embodied by Dr. King and the women and men who led the Civil Rights Movement with him.
Work to create a world we have yet to live in and may not live to see born.
The world as it is still has much of the poverty, social injustice, and power imbalances that were in place over 50 years ago when Dr. King was alive. SEED seminars address the history and current issues that keep systems operating oppressively (by perpetuating racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, classism, religious intolerance, ableism, etc.) and challenge participants to envision what a just and equitable world would look like and what it will take to get there.
Clarity about how hard it is to give up believing that what was earned resulted strictly from hard work and determination, and not from inequitable access.
By doing our own personal work to understand the places in our lives where we have privilege and where we don’t, SEED facilitators are able to help participants to acknowledge the places and ways that they have different levels of privilege--and how they were assisted (or not) by differential access to people and resources at various times of their lives.
Unwavering belief in the ability of people to grow and change. Peace is not the absence of conflict; it is the achievement of justice.
The conversations that unfold in SEED seminars are often challenging and uncomfortable as well as illuminating and thought provoking--which leads to new knowledge and growth of perspective for many of those who participate in SEED, including the facilitators. What role does each of us play in systems that lift some up while keeping others down? What can each of us do from our positions to create enactable possibilities that are rooted in true justice for everyone?
An appreciation for both leadership and collaboration with other leaders to cultivate a network--avoiding charismatic celebrity icons.
SEED relies on teams of facilitators who design and lead seminars with the understanding that we are all in a process of learning together. We are not experts and do not claim to be. That helps each of us to be open to the leadership in participants and each other in order to grow networks of people who are invested in change toward justice and equity. This is modeled by the SEED staff as well, knowing that charismatic leadership is limited (and prone to assasination, whether figurative or literal).
Dr. King knew that speaking truth to power held risk, but he persisted in spite of the risk. He saw his peaceful protests countered by violence, yet always trained and led people to protest non-violently. May his life and example continue to inspire and agitate us to action in our respective spheres of influence.