This was first published in the JTA.
On Monday, the 25th anniversary of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, 35 volunteers and 15 Teach For America teachers joined our team in Washington, D.C., to honor the life and legacy of Dr. King through a day of service. Together, they created thousands of study materials for hundreds of students in struggling schools across D.C.
The volunteers came together as a diverse group, from big cities and small towns, a range of professions and varying degrees of Jewish connection. But for those five hours, they were a community united in answering Dr. King’s call to greatness. In fitting testament, each wore a shirt proclaiming:
Everybody can be GREAT because everybody can SERVE.
These plain-spoken words, delivered by the inimitable Dr. King in Atlanta in 1968, remind us that we do not have to be wealthy or powerful, intelligent or well-read, popular or good looking to serve. We just have to have the desire in our heart to meet the need in our world.
Indeed, in the aftermath of yet another human tragedy—the Jan. 8 shooting in Arizona—at a time of divisiveness and partisanship, we are reminded of the urgency of Dr. King’s call to greatness through service, an act upon which we can begin to build mutual understanding and to see that what unites us in our humanity is far greater than what divides us.