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What Is Your Life’s Blueprint? – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I taught English for quite a few years before I strictly became an Algebra teacher. Every January, while everyone else taught “I Have A Dream”  for Dr. Martin Luther King Day, I taught this – “What Is Your Life’s BluePrint?” I absolutely adore this speech.

What Is Your Life’s Blueprint? 
Six months before he was assassinated, King spoke to a group of students at Barratt Junior High School in Philadelphia on October 26, 1967.

I want to ask you a question, and that is: What is your life’s blueprint?

Whenever a building is constructed, you usually have an architect who draws a blueprint, and that blueprint serves as the pattern, as the guide, and a building is not well erected without a good, solid blueprint.

Now each of you is in the process of building the structure of your lives, and the question is whether you have a proper, a solid and a sound blueprint.

I want to suggest some of the things that should begin your life’s blueprint. Number one in your life’s blueprint, should be a deep belief in your own dignity, your worth and your own somebodiness. Don’t allow anybody to make you feel that you’re nobody. Always feel that you count. Always feel that you have worth, and always feel that your life has ultimate significance.

Secondly, in your life’s blueprint you must have as the basic principle the determination to achieve excellence in your various fields of endeavor. You’re going to be deciding as the days, as the years unfold what you will do in life — what your life’s work will be. Set out to do it well.

And I say to you, my young friends, doors are opening to you–doors of opportunities that were not open to your mothers and your fathers — and the great challenge facing you is to be ready to face these doors as they open.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, the great essayist, said in a lecture in 1871, “If a man can write a better book or preach a better sermon or make a better mousetrap than his neighbor, even if he builds his house in the woods, the world will make a beaten path to his door.”

This hasn’t always been true — but it will become increasingly true, and so I would urge you to study hard, to burn the midnight oil; I would say to you, don’t drop out of school. I understand all the sociological reasons, but I urge you that in spite of your economic plight, in spite of the situation that you’re forced to live in — stay in school.

And when you discover what you will be in your life, set out to do it as if God Almighty called you at this particular moment in history to do it. don’t just set out to do a good job. Set out to do such a good job that the living, the dead or the unborn couldn’t do it any better.

If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music, sweep streets like Leontyne Price sings before the Metropolitan Opera. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well. If you can’t be a pine at the top of the hill, be a shrub in the valley. Be the best little shrub on the side of the hill.

Be a bush if you can’t be a tree. If you can’t be a highway, just be a trail. If you can’t be a sun, be a star. For it isn’t by size that you win or fail. Be the best of whatever you are.

— From the estate of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.





10 Years…

10 years ago I was very pregnant with my daughter and thought the world was ending…10 years later I stare at my daughter, remembering very vividly how I felt that day and wonder where those 10 years went.

10 years ago I prayed for the safety of my unborn daughter and wondered what kind of world she was going to be born into…10 years later I still worry about what kind of world she lives in, watch over her with a vigilance that only another parent would understand, and pray she will never experience a day like that in her lifetime.

10 years ago, I had to put on a brave face for my students while we listened to the jumbled news reports…10 years later, I still don’t know how I did it.

10 years ago I sat on the couch watching non-stop news footage and cried…it lasted for days….10 years later, I still cry whenever I read an article or watch any form of media clip about that day.

10 years ago I watched planes crash into the towers in disbelief…10 years later, I look up every single time a plane flies overhead.

10 years ago the New York Skyline changed forever…10 years later, I still look across the Hudson River directly at that spot and see those towers standing in my mind’s eye.

10 years ago, I heard a silence around me in the world that was actually deafening…10 years later, I can close my eyes and still hear it resonating.

10 years ago, I opened the paper and saw the last known picture of my childhood friend, Port Authority Police Officer Chris Amoroso, saving a life before losing his own in the collapse of the Second Tower…10 years later, I share that famous picture with all of my students and tell his story, as a tribute to him.

10 years ago, I cried for the emergency responders that gave their lives as heroes…10 years later, I cry for the heroes dying from 9/11 related illnesses.

10 years ago, I learned a new form of patriotism…10 years later, I am saddened by the way I had to learn it.

10 years ago I lost a piece of my heart and my life changed forever…10 years later, it hasn’t gotten any easier, because this is the one wound time just can’t heal.

I will Never Forget…

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