Written by Joe Pitts
Mayor of Clarksville
Clarksville, TN – Around Monday’s national holiday, as a community, we pause to reflect on the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We study the words he spoke decades ago, and they still inspire us today.
One of my favorite quotes of his is this: ““The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. … Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education. The complete education gives one not only power of concentration, but worthy objectives upon which to concentrate.”
This quote comes from Dr. King’s short essay “The Purpose of Education,” written in Atlanta in 1947 and published in the Maroon Tiger, the Morehouse College newspaper.
Essentially, Dr. King is arguing that education has both a utilitarian and a moral function. In the essay, King cites the example of a Georgia governor, Eugene Talmadge, whom he considered intellectually gifted and well-educated, but still set against civil rights for black Americans.
This leads King to suggest that reasoning ability is not enough. He insists that character and moral development are necessary to allow our intellects to serve a humane purpose.
So how, as a government leader, do I put King’s inspiring words into action? First, I have to use my education and my life’s learning to make good decisions and explain things logically and technically to our citizens. Then, based on a sense of moral purpose, I may also need to help persuade and convince people to do the right thing — to rezone a piece property for a soup kitchen, perhaps, or stand up for law enforcement tools and technology that make our community safer.
Dr. King’s words can certainly move all of us in our day-to-day lives. They should encourage us to a broad and meaningful education, and inspire us to put our learning and all our intellectual gifts to a good purpose.
On Monday, and every day of the year, I invite you to join me in remembering the life and actions of Martin Luther King Jr., and ponder how our own actions can bring positive change in our community