The Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

By Punahou President Mike Latham ’86

On Monday we celebrate the life and legacy of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., one of the 20th century’s greatest proponents of human rights and social responsibility. At a moment of deep national division, King called for America to live out the full measure of its promise for freedom and justice.  

As some of you may know, on September 22, 1959, King visited Punahou at the invitation of President John Fox. At an Academy Chapel, he preached to our students on the “Three Dimensions of Life,” a topic that he would return to repeatedly during the struggle for civil rights. While we don’t have the precise text he used that day, in later versions of the same sermon he reflected on the vital interrelationship between self-acceptance, love of others, and faith in God.

Most crucially, King called on his audience to cultivate a spirit of gratitude and recognition of interdependence that might allow them to “rise above the narrow confines of . . . individual concerns.” “This is what God needs today,” he emphasized, “men and women who will ask, ‘What will happen to humanity if I don’t help?’”

More than 60 years later, King’s words still resonate on our campus. As we affirm the worth and dignity of every student that we have the privilege to teach, we are also reminded of the pressing need to move beyond our walls and continue to serve the community of which we are a part. I am deeply honored to work alongside our dedicated faculty and staff as we prepare our graduates to bring their compassion and commitment to the challenges of our own era.

Related: Team Up! Tip of the Week: Observing Martin Luther King Jr. Day

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