Last fall, a challenge was issued to students: Come up with a service project that honors the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. beyond a one-day celebration or the “I Have a Dream” speech.
Ten service project proposals were submitted to the first “Beyond the Speech: Martin Luther King Jr. Day Challenge.” The proposals involved issues ranging from education and the environment to homelessness and political empowerment.
The challenge was organized by the Haas Center for Public Service with support from the Martin Luther King Celebration Committee and the Educational Resources Division of the Office of the Vice Provost for Student Affairs.
It was designed to encourage students and student groups to plan and implement service projects that extend the celebration and work of King “beyond one day of service, beyond one day of honor and beyond one month of celebration.” A panel of faculty and staff evaluated the proposals based on the depth of thought or reflection on King’s life or message; creativity, innovation and impact; collaboration, partnership, new audience engagement and new participants; creative marketing and visibility and management of financial resources.
Below are descriptions of the winning projects, which received grants ranging from $350 to $600:
“Hope to Life,” a project submitted by freshman JESSICA REED, who plans to conduct videotaped interviews with Stanford students and faculty to find out how they use their education to bring hope to their lives and to the lives of others. Reed plans to share these interviews with high school students and begin a discussion about how they can use education to fulfill their own dreams.
“Dr. King’s principles root deeply in my goal for this project,” Reed wrote in her proposal. “He once spoke to a group of middle school students in Philadelphia, saying, ‘Whenever a building is constructed, you usually have an architect who draws a blueprint, and that blueprint serves as the pattern, as the guide, and a building is not well erected without a good, solid blueprint.’ I desire to help students understand that they can use their education as a foundation for greatness. However, they also need hope to keep pursuing their education even when obstacles try to stop them.”
JUAN FLORES, a sophomore, proposed a project inspired by the It Gets Better Project designed to combat suicide among LGBT youth. Working with La Familia de Stanford, a queer and questioning Latina/o support and activism group, Flores seeks to incorporate elements from King’s “I Have a Dream” speech into the video that would be posted on the It Gets Better website. Organizers also want to reach out to LGBT teenagers with “mentorship and support” in high schools, homeless shelters “and/or where hope is needed most,” Flores wrote.
Senior MICHAEL TUBBS, who submitted a proposal on behalf of the Stanford Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), plans to implement an initiative to promote political education, empowerment and mobilization among marginalized youth, through voter registration activities for high school students in Oakland.
“As Dr. King once noted, ‘Almost always, the creative, dedicated minority has made the world better.’ We hope to transform the high school students of Oakland into the creative, dedicated citizens they have the potential to be and dispel the notion that young people are apathetic and uninvolved,” wrote Tubbs.
GILLIE COLLINS, a sophomore, proposed a storytelling event, developed in collaboration with STAND, a student anti-genocide coalition, designed to bring attention to the civil rights of Burmese civilians brutalized by the military junta that has ruled the country since 1962. “The Burma storytelling event would highlight these injustices by sharing relevant stories with the Stanford community that would otherwise go unheard,” Collins wrote. “This project is founded on the idea that all human beings deserve equal treatment and basic civil liberties, principles that guided Dr. King’s work.”
The winners of the challenge are expected to conduct their projects during the months of January and February and make a presentation to the Stanford community during the Student Affairs Assessment Poster Fair, which takes place in the spring.