Ernest L. Boyer on Martin Luther King Jr.’s Legacy

Ernest L. Boyer (Courtesy Ernest L. Boyer Center Archives, Messiah College)

Some of you may know that in addition to my work as director of the Sider Institute at Messiah College, I also serve as the digital archives specialist at the Ernest L. Boyer Center Archives, which is also headquartered at the College. Boyer was a son of the Brethren in Christ Church (his father and grandfather were long-serving ministers in Ohio); for many years he taught and served in administration at Upland College, and was a long-serving Messiah College board member. He also served quite briefly as a Brethren in Christ minister in Florida.

One of my current initiatives at the Center Archives is Service Fulfilled: The Blog of the Ernest L. Boyer Center Archives. While I encourage you to go back and check out all of our posts from the past month, I want to draw your attention to a particular post published yesterday. Here in the U.S., yesterday was a federal holiday honoring American civil rights leader, activist, and nonviolence advocate Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Over at Service Fulfilled, we celebrated the holiday by featuring Dr. Boyer’s thoughts on Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy and how it should be taught in American schools.

Here’s a snippet from Boyer’s speech, shared on the blog:

We all rejoice, of course, that a national holiday has been dedicated to the memory of this extraordinary individual.

But it is my conviction—and it shall be the theme of my remarks today—that

if we fail to bring the message of Dr. King into the nation’s classrooms, memories will fade, our celebration will become increasingly superficial, and the holiday will be a time when we remember only the symbols, not the substance, of his work.

Specifically, I’m convinced that the curriculum in our schools should include a study of Reverend King for three essential reasons:

First, all students should study the life of Martin Luther King to understand, more precisely, the social and intellectual heritage of our nation. . . .

[Second,] I’m convinced that all students should learn about Martin Luther King not only to gain historical perspective, but also to understand the power and poetry of the written and spoken word. . . .

[Third,] all students also should study the life of Martin Luther King to understand more fully the relationship between what they learn and how they live.

You can read the full post here.

About Devin Manzullo-Thomas

Father to Lucas. Husband to Katie. Prof and administrator at Messiah University.
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