- When I first heard Martin Luther King deliver the “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963, I was on a ladder in Detroit, painting a house and listening on my transistor radio.
- Later that fall, when I was a senior at Ferndale High School where race riots were breaking out, I remembered the powerful speech. As I felt compelled to take some action, I decided to bring together student leaders from both races to talk to one another about what we could do to relieve the tension and resolve the problems. From this meeting, we created the Student Relations Council, which drastically reduced the tensions between the races in our high school. Seems like I’ve been bringing people together to talk about resolving problems ever since.
- In 1968, I was again a senior, this time at the University of Michigan, a few months from graduation, when I heard that Martin Luther King had been assassinated. Heartbroken by his death as well as the deaths of the two Kennedy brothers, I once again decided I needed to do something to help reduce my sense of loss and the terrible tensions in our country. I decided to take my first job as a teacher in Harlem that fall, hoping to have a positive impact on an impoverished student population.
- In January 1970, I found myself directing my group of African-American and Puerto Rican elementary school students from Harlem in a play at Lincoln Center to honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The students had helped to write, direct, and produce the play.
- Inspired by Dr. King’s teachings, in the fall of 1970, I entered a graduate program in psychology at Harvard. The program, called The Clinical Psychology and Public Practice Program, was dedicated to the idea of bringing psychology forward as a method to promote social change in the United States.
Throughout my career, spanning four decades as a psychologist, family therapist, executive coach, and professor, Dr. King has continued to be a major influence on my life. On January 18, 2019, almost 51 years after his death, I will be hosting an annual event to honor the memory of Dr. Luther King and his impact on Education, Business, and the Humanities. It will be held at Zingerman’s Roadhouse on that Friday,from 7 a.m. – 9 a.m. We have 75 people signed up to attend so far, but there are still a few spots available. Click here to sign up to attend.
The panel members, who will also be talking about the influence of Dr. King on their own lives and careers include:
Sonya Jacobs – University of Michigan, Chief Organizational Learning Officer
Paul Saginaw – Zingerman’s co-founder
Lori Saginaw – Dispute Resolution Specialist
Marvin Parnes – Ann Arbor Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities, Interim Executive Director
Deborah Orlowski – University of Michigan, Senior Learning Specialist, Leading Change Practicum Program Manager
Ali Shammout – University of Michigan, Ross School of Business student, class of 2019