To honor the memory and dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the staff at the Cleveland Job Corps Center held a MLK Day Commemoration. On January 18, 2021, Residential Counselors Stephen Furlow-Munn, and Joseph Clark highlighted the work and service of the great leader and influencer. They encouraged students to not only believe but to understand that Dr. King’s DREAM needs to be attainable for everyone. They challenged them to always strive to succeed in life no matter who they are or where they came from.
The students listened attentively, and some interjected their knowledge and what they admire most about Dr. King. They discussed the treatment of minorities of the past and compared them to the treatment of minorities today. They also expressed that Dr. King continues to inspire, motivate, and encourage people today just as much as he did back then and that his influence lives on beyond his untimely death.
Barbara Lattimer, State Tested Nursing Assistant student, communicated her curiosity of how Dr. King was able to obtain so many degrees in such a short period of time. She stated, “I have so much respect for Dr. King. He underwent so much trauma and persecution just to try to make his DREAM a reality for all. He is so impressive.”
Additionally, the Cleveland Job Corps Center Outreach and Admissions team created art about the Civil Rights Leader and his relevancy today. Gabrilla Valentine, Outreach and Admissions Counselor, used the opportunity to share information with students about the Highlander Folk School where Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Parks, and other Civil Rights leaders visited to learn about community organizing strategies in an interracial environment. The Highlander Folk School had long been disliked for its commitment not only to racial equality but also to workers’ rights and class equality. Nestled first in the hills of Monteagle, TN, and now housed in New Market, TN, Highlander worked to breaks stereotypes often associated with the South.
Valentine created a poster to show Dr. King and other activists visiting the center in the past. This poster also shows an image of the Highlander building being burned down just two years ago in 2018, as an act of terror, an unfortunate reminder that the work did not end with Dr. King.
“I believe that it is important to remember that Dr. King stands on the shoulders of those who came before him just as we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us,” said Valentine. “Great leaders do not just appear out of nowhere; they learn and are supported by the communities around them. Here at Job Corps, we want to guide you towards becoming builders of King’s “Beloved Community” in your own right.”