MLK Speech Excerpt: Repairing the Great House

Thursday, January 23 at 07:30 AM
Category: Arvest Community News

Dr. Robinson, a professor of history and the vice chancellor for diversity and community at the University of Arkansas, spoke about how Dr. Martin Luther King helped build a broken America, in a speech in Fayetteville, Ark., on Jan. 20. Here is an excerpt from Dr. Robinson’s speech.

"These reflections about my challenges in building with my hands derived in part because I understood that Dr. King was a builder. He had to have been, for in his time, Dr. King was faced with the very daunting fact that so much about America was broken.

We honor and commemorate Dr. King today because he was compassionate and skilled enough to respond to the fractured-nature of this nation by assuming the role of a healer and builder. For you see, one does not have to possess the ability to construct something with hands to be a builder. There are several ways to build. We build with our words, not just those given at events like this today, but those everyday utterances of human kindness. We build with our efforts to educate and better ourselves. 

When this great house was first established it had structural problems that limited its ability to adequately serve all of the citizens of this nation. Dr. King recognized this and began making repairs. Now, it is time for us to assume our roles as contractors. Now, it is time for us to play our part. 

Let us begin by resetting the foundation of this great house, cementing it firmly in the words found in our American Creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal. This house must have a structure fastened by fairness and supported by the strong pillars of Truth and Justice. This house needs the addition of wide windows of wisdom in order to allow strong rays from the Light of Hope to radiate in and the pungent fragrance of dreams realized to filter out. 

There needs to be a long new table in this house. One full enough to accommodate the magnificent diversity of our great American democracy; surrounded by an abundance of chairs with names like liberty, honor, freedom, duty and opportunity. 

Last but not least, this house must have the addition of many doors — doors that have no locks, doors that have no untoward barriers or obstructions, doors that serve not only the rich but the poor; not only the profound but the simple; not only the majority but America’s many minorities. Doors that offer easy access to those who labor daily to build a better America.

And if we do our part to repair and build this great house called America, we will be able to speed up that day when lions will be able to lay in full green pastures with lambs. We will be able to speed up that day when justice will roar like a mighty wind and rush like a raging river. But not only that -- we’ll be able to speed up that day when poor children from the Arkansas Delta will have the same access to a quality education as rich children from every other part of the state. We’ll speed up that day when right here at the University of Arkansas low-income college students with great ability and even greater potential won’t have to leave the University of Arkansas simply because their pocketbooks cannot afford the quality of education that their minds can surely handle. We’ll be able to speed up that day when every valley will be exalted, every hill made low, the crooked places will be made straight, and the rough places made plain.  And all of us, the descendants of slaves and slave masters, will see it together. Why? Because we repaired it together -- this great house called America."

Biography: Charles Robinson
Dr. Charles F. Robinson II received a bachelor’s in history at the University of Houston, a master’s in history at Rice University and a doctorate in history at the University of Houston. Currently, Dr. Robinson is both a professor of history and the vice chancellor for diversity and community at the University of Arkansas. Dr. Robinson has been awarded several teaching and community awards. He has been invited by numerous universities and professional organizations to speak on a variety of topics. He has published four books, numerous articles, book chapters and reviews.  

Tags: Arkansas, Community Support, Fayetteville
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