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“I have a dream…” These are some of the most famous words in American history, proclaimed by the most prominent figure of the Civil Rights Movement: Martin Luther King, Jr. Indeed, his leadership and nonviolent protests against racial discrimination helped propel the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964, which banned “discrimination based on race, color, religion or national origin.”

Today, on Dr. King’s birthday, we want to honor his memory and highlight one of his reflections — “The Purpose of Education.” This powerfully worded piece, penned by Dr. King in 1947, was published in The Maroon Tiger, the campus newspaper at the Morehouse College where he completed his undergraduate studies in sociology.

The piece is full of universal truths and perhaps most critically reminds us all of the function of education as the linchpin of social justice. We encourage everyone to read through this compelling and insightful piece in its entirety here. But if you absolutely cannot, at least take away this:

A great majority of the so-called educated people do not think logically and scientifically. Even the press, the classroom, the platform, and the pulpit in many instances do not give us objective and unbiased truths. To save man from the morass of propaganda, in my opinion, is one of the chief aims of education. Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction.

The function of education, therefore, is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. But education which stops with efficiency may prove the greatest menace to society. The most dangerous criminal may be the man gifted with reason, but with no morals.

Nearly 60 years after it was published, this piece still resonates very deeply with all of us here at The Think Tank. We believe youths across all ethnic, socioeconomic, religious and sexual identities should have ready access to high-quality education, one that equips them with the critical-thinking skills to objectively navigate their curiosities, change their communities in positive and sustainable ways and inspire generations after them to do the same. Our cities will be better for it.

So we want to say happy birthday and thank you to the man who kicked it all off and still serves as a resounding example of social justice and integrity 45 years after his assassination. We hope you, our supporters, are just as inspired by his example as we are.

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