Student Remarks 2006 MLK Breakfast
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With a mix of bitterness and hope, these two young men address the legacy of Martin Luther King. David Lowry, a Lumbee Indian, grew up in southeastern North Carolina where the great majority of the Lumbee people reside. He speaks compellingly of his Lumbee Indian ancestry, and his need to be recognized at MIT and beyond as part of a group that goes unrecognized by the government and even by other Native Americans as an authentic and distinct people. “The spirit of segregation is alive and well today,” he says. While political correctness encourages students of color not to feel obligated to reveal their ethnicity, Lowry embraces his own defiantly. How else to challenge a dominant society that not only manipulates people of color in the media, but neglects them in national disasters, and sends them in disproportionate numbers to war.
For the middle and upper classes, says John Pope, the poor are pretty much invisible—decades after Dr. King began his War on Poverty. As a nation, we experienced a moment of illumination when Hurricane Katrina struck, and revealed the brutal inequities between the well-to-do and the poor. Half a year later, says Pope, the “poor are fading back out of sight.” One out of eight Americans lives below the poverty line. He exhorts his fellow students and colleagues “to offer something to those less fortunate,” whether resources or time. Stop and reach into your pockets and give to charities, he says, or write to a Congressman about keeping the nation’s poor in mind when drafting legislation. Whether at an urban school, soup kitchen or shelter, he pleads, “Get off campus and give something of yourself.”
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