Martin Luther King Jr. Understood

Posted on April 4, 2008. Filed under: CTE, New and Related Services Division | Tags: , , , , |

From a speech that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered six months before he was assassinated, to a group of students at Barrat Junior High School in Philadelphia on October 26, 1967.

“If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music, sweep streets like Leontyne Price sings before the Metropolitan Opera. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well.’ If you can’t be a pine at the top of the hill, be a shrub in the valley. Be the best little shrub on the side of the hill.
“Be a bush if you can’t be a tree.
If you can’t be a highway, just be a trail.
If you can’t be a sun, be a star.
For it isn’t by size that you win or fail.
Be the best of whatever you are.”

Chris’ Thoughts:

Dr. Martin Luther King understood that all jobs have worth. We don’t all need to go to college and get a desk job to feel like we are worth something. Even the jobs that require little skill are important to our society, and those employed in them need to feel good about what they do.

Find a job that you can be passionate about and go for it. Don’t let others drag you down, or make you take an education/career path that you don’t really want.

If we had more passionate street sweepers across the country as envisioned by Dr. King, we’d be closer to achieving the dream.


Well, at least that’s the way that I see it. Let me know what you are thinking, and stop by again soon for more of my ramblings.

Chris Droessler
President of ACTE School-to-Work/Careers Section
School-to-Career Coordinator
Wake County Public School System
North Carolina, USA


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2 Responses to “Martin Luther King Jr. Understood”

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Great point, Chris. The world needs janitors and street sweepers, and people who work in those fields should be able to feel proud without society looking down on them.

It seems that Dr. King was able to value the qualities that make us human rather than the “trappings” that make us winners or losers by someone else’s scale of judgment. Thanks for the great insight!

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