I entered Kindergarten in the Fall of 1968 at the newly renamed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School, a school that continues to educate a diverse population in the Mount Hope neighborhood in Providence. King had been assassinated the previous Spring, and the school took on his name and his mission soon after.

My Kindergarten “class” was the first fully desegregated grade in Providence, an opportunity not lost on teachers and administrators. King’s legacy was celebrated throughout my elementary years, providing me at least a marginal appreciation for the Civil Rights Movement from an early age. Fifty years later, the school remains a vibrant community comprised of students and faculty who continue to build on King’s legacy.

I later attended Boston University where King earned his Ph.D just before he was appointed Minister of the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church in 1955. He led the Montgomery Bus Boycott just six months after receiving his degree. MLK has been a worthy hero since I understood the concept of heroism. I became an educator and writer to further his message of racial harmony and tolerance.

In a complex world, with seemingly never-ending division, King’s message of unity and brotherhood is indeed more relevant than ever. On MLK Day 2021, the challenge is to once again be motivated by his words, and inspired by his message.

“The time is always right to do what is right.”

I’ve updated a Spotify playlist of songs about King and the Civil Rights Movement that I put together last year. Check it out below and listen to my radio show “The Kingston Coffeehouse” Tuesday 6-9PM on WRIU 90.3FM for more music inspired by MLK.