Sitting in on Minnijean Brown-Trickey’s keynote address on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I was floored by the realization that I was listening to one of the nine key students who integrated our nation’s schools. Later that evening while reflecting on her words, my mind wandered to a Facebook post that had caught my eye a few weeks prior. The post stated, “What if the cure for cancer is trapped inside the mind of someone who can’t afford an education?” I find this quote to be startlingly true, and I believe it applies beyond issues of poverty, including both gender and racial inequality as well. My heart was warmed by the thought of how many great ideas that people like Brown-Trickey and King have allowed our world to enjoy that previously would not have been developed due to the suppression of people’s thoughts based on the color of their skin.
That’s powerful, but there is more. They were the start. We, you and I, have miles left to go before the journey they started towards educational equality is finished. There are countless studies that show how minorities are still often disadvantaged in both education and advancement within employment. Sad stuff, I know, but here’s the cool news; we all can play a part in carrying on the torch that Brown-Trickey lit in Little Rock. Whether it is tutoring with America Reads, doing science outreach with Science Academy, pursuing Teach for America after graduation, voting pro-education throughout life or in your own unique way, the possibilities are endless to make a difference.
I believe working toward educational equality could have profound impacts on our world. Take a minute and imagine with me. Think about how many great ideas we can cultivate if the amount of minds allowed to think big were not limited by gender, color or your parents’ income. The amount of innovation and greatness we’d be capable of would be amazing. It may be utopian, but I imagine many people told King and Brown-Trickey in 1957 that integrating our nation schools was utopian. So, allow your mind to dream, and, more importantly, act on that dream just like King and Brown-Trickey.
This letter was written by Mike Rose, class of 2014.