In honor of Martin Luther King Day, I want to share something that we used at the youth-oriented nonprofit I headed here in Houston. Dr. King's I Have A Dream Speech, his speech after the Selma-to-Montgomery march, and others are so famous that they have entered our national consciousness. But we found a little known talk he gave to junior high students in a small auditorium that deserves more attention.
It was a career talk called What Is Your Life’s Blueprint? We incorporated it into our classes as a way to get our own students to look beyond their current challenges and talk about their future potential.
The backstory is that on October 26, 1967, Dr. King was in Philadelphia for a celebrity-studded fundraiser for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference at the Spectrum Arena. He was to appear alongside Aretha Franklin, Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier. However, on the way he made a detour so that he could talk to students at Philadelphia’s Barratt Junior High School. Six months later, Dr. King would be assassinated.
We are fortunate that someone filmed the speech at Barratt because it is one of the few times we are able to see and hear him talk directly to young students. The full speech is available on YouTube, but here is a shorter version that fits well into a class schedule and leaves a lot of time for discussion: