A Conversation With Martin Luther King

by Guest Contributor on January 14, 2011

Dr. Martin Luther KingGuest post by Donna Vincent Roa

Inspirational. Thought-provoking. Honored citizen.

In fact, the only citizen bestowed the honor of a federal holiday – coming up on Monday – bearing his name. This year he would have been 82. A great man whose life was cut short.

Reverend Martin Luther King.

He’s a man I’ve long idolized for his oratorical skills, the ability to rally a nation for some of the most important causes of our generation, distinctive leadership role, and one whose life and intentions focused on a broader societal purpose.

I am humbled by his intellectual energy, commitment, and great passion for progressive ideas and principles that he held so dear. He’s one of several people for whom I harbor a secret wish to have had the chance to share a cup of coffee, ideas, and engaging conversation.

Who wouldn’t want the chance to speak with a man known for saying words of lasting value, for speaking up when no one else would, and for being the catalyst behind a major social transition in our country.

What would he say? What advice would he give to woman business owners?

The legacy

While I will never know what he would actually say, Mr. King has a legacy of meaningful quotes and sayings. I’ve combed through them many times and feel informed enough to share with you what I think he would tell me, if we had had the chance to share that coffee.

Suspend belief and take the journey with me.

Work With Purpose

No matter what work you choose or what work chooses you, you must do it well. The way that you work is a definition of who you are. Successful people possess an impeccable attitude and work ethic.

Do for Others

Serving others brings rewards beyond measure. Live for others. Be part of labor that uplifts humanity. This is important for our society.

Take serious civic responsibility and use it to sharpen your skills, expand your circle of associates, reap intangible rewards, and favorably impact others’ lives.

A creative dedicated minority can make the world better. Position yourself to be cognizant of the broader concerns of all humanity. The quality of your life is more important than how long you live it.

Embrace Change

Do not be afraid of change or the pain and struggle of change. Change is not easy. Change, especially change for justice, requires sacrifice, struggle, and passion.

However, know that masters of change are leaders.

Fight Racism

Fight against racism. Yes, it still exists—in so many pockets of our society. Ask the white mother with a son from Africa how rejection and racism by her own family feels. Ask the Chinese boy on the playground who is not accepted because his eyes are different.

Blood is the same color for all of us. We all breathe the same air. Accept and celebrate differences. Judge a person only by the content of her character, not the color of her skin. We can erase the “starless midnight of racism.” Let love reign.

Use Dreams to Incubate Ideas

Your dreams are an incubator for ideas, innovation, and business excellence. Test your dreams. Rely on them, regularly. If you have dreams, you must commit to them, inform them, and count on them.

While you may not understand, oftentimes they prepare you for something even greater than you may have imagined.

Speak Up and Do Right

We must all speak up about the things that matter. With purposeful words, we can cause others to ponder, reflect, and take action.

No matter what channel you use (do I really need a Twitter account, Donna?), you should be truthful on all matters. Listen to your inner voice.

Don’t participate or passively accept evil or wrongdoing. Protest it. If you don’t, you are really cooperating with it. Always do right.

One Final Thought…

Each of us has the opportunity to do something historically important. We all have the potential to be charismatic, practice value-based leadership, mobilize ideas to support a cause, and author cooperation where none existed before.

Each generation has issues. Inspired citizens and leaders take the time to address those issues.

Write. Speak. Let your voice be heard. Most importantly, cultivate your voice.

Commerce happens best in societies where the citizen’s voice echoes in the halls of government, in the media, and in this day and age… the Internet.

March on, ladies.

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Image: Luiz Fernando Reis via Flickr, Creative Commons

Donna Vincent Roa is a communication rainmaker who designs and builds best-in-class communication portfolios. A leading strategist in science, environment, and sustainability communication, she is Managing Partner & Chief Strategist for Vincent Roa Group LLC, a small, woman-owned firm that specializes in communication about the earth and its people. A recent WWPR Woman of the Year finalist, she is also an Environment Commissioner for the City of Rockville. She also blogs and can be reached at donna [a] vincentroagroup [dot] com.

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