Dr. King’s “C.”

Today marks the return to school or work (or to school AND work) for many of us. Thoughts of homework, reports and grades quickly come to mind.

But one particular student (and grade) comes to mind for me today–Dr. Martin Luther King.

I thought about him on the 52nd anniversary of his “I Have a Dream” on August 28.

We all know the majesty, power and importance of the speech. What you may not know is that major parts of the speech were improvised. (But like most improvisations, key themes were practiced first.) Thank Mahalia Jackson for encouraging Dr. King to share his dream with the crowd that day.

Obviously, the speech was written and delivered by a master public speaker. No dispute there. But did you know the speech maker–considered one of the best American orators ever–received a “C” in public speaking during his first year at Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, PA? Well, OK, “C+” was the actual grade, but still. (Hat tip to the National Constitution Center’s Constitution Daily for the find.)

I mention this today for this reason: getting a “C”–or any setback–isn’t fatal.

That “C” neither stopped Dr. King from becoming the valedictorian of his class, nor did it impair his ability to deliver important speeches–like his “I Have A Dream” speech, among others.

So. Tuck that thought of Dr. King’s “C” into your metaphorical backpack or briefcase today. Remember to retrieve it when the work gets hard or feels unrelenting. We are all challenged, but we can emerge, strengthened, on the other side.

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One comment

  1. Pingback: Sunday Long Read: Lessons from Pope Francis | Speeches & Sprints

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