Black History Month Calls Us All to Be Leaders in Love and Equality

Easterseals President and CEO, Angela F. WilliamsFebruary is Black History Month and at this time I find myself reflecting on prolific leaders who have come before me. Teachings of the past shape our present. This is something I’ve always known, but it is a truth that holds more significance as I embark on a new journey as President and CEO of Easterseals. In particular, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy has always held a special place in my heart and inspired how I lead.

Dr. King’s great dream of a vibrant, multiracial nation united in justice, peace and reconciliation included a place at the table for children of every race and ability. I believe we are called this Black History Month, not merely to honor and remember, but to celebrate the values of equality, tolerance and inclusivity he so compellingly expressed in his great dream for America.

Over the course of human history, we’ve seen pieces of that dream come into fruition — witnessed the power of collective human will for good. But we’ve also seen the destruction of individuals, families and entire communities as a result of intolerance and exclusivity.

As I read Dr. King’s writings, speeches and interviews, I am struck by his eloquence. I am struck by his power and passion to speak truth and life into a world that sometimes fails to acknowledge the worth and dignity of all people.

Dr. King called us to “all learn to live together as brothers or we will all perish together as fools. We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality.”

If this is true, at what point do we citizens in this society recognize that “a house divided cannot stand?”

Dr. King once said that we all have to decide whether we “will walk in the light of creative altruism or the darkness of destructive selfishness.” Life’s most persistent and nagging question, he said, is `what are you doing for others?’

This Black History Month, I want you to ask yourself these questions:

  • How do I show love to my neighbors who don’t look like me or are not in my sphere of influence?
  • How do I show love to my colleagues at work? To family members?
  • Am I love in action?

I believe that not only the course of history, but this very moment, can be shaped by acknowledgement and acceptance of your duties and responsibilities to be “love in action.” I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere, of all abilities, can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, dignity, and equality – and that we all have a part in creating such a world.

Easterseals believes in this too. We believe all people should have the opportunity to reach their full potential and be their greatest self – just as Martin Luther King did. It is why we wake up every morning. We strive to be love in action. Will you join us?

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