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Plunging Back In: MLK and Aptissimi

January 20th, 2010 kcshap13

Hello! Just got back to Holy Cross campus from Winter Break and was lucky enough to have a very cool experience and opportunity before classes began…

I was born in 1990, 22 years after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Of course I knew his importance as a leader in the Civil Rights Movement; of the freedom he stood for, and his remarkable leadership. But even though his lifetime fell so close to mine, like many in my generation, I only saw him through the lens of my school plays and history books. I saw him as a role model and an example for others who wished to achieve a better world through nonviolent resistance, but I never had fully understood that behind my hero was a human. A human that was born no different than you or I, but who through his principled leadership was catapulted to the top of the fight for human rights for which he sacrificed his life.

Until yesterday at the Aptissimi Leadership Conference. As soon as that realization was made, it flung open the doors to both a deep and exponentially more profound respect for MLK, and my own potential as a leader.

I have to say that waking up at 7 am in Boston to be on time for the 10 am – 3 pm Leadership Conference, I was less than completely enthusiastic. Of course I was excited to be back on campus and meet more people with similar interests, but I half-expected the same old “Leadership” shpeal that I’d so often heard in high school.

However, thanks to Dr. Reverend Jamie Washington, the speaker sponsored by HC’s “Hate Not Here” Committee, I came out of Aptissimi with something valuable and relevant…  Inspiration.

Dr. Reverend Washington pushed us all to see the importance of where we come from, and how where we come from influences our approach to life and leadership. He also pushed us, once we were conscious of that influence, to try to see our world beyond our limited perspective. He asked us the question, “Who do we not see?”

And then it hit me. There is so much, in my charmed life as a Holy Cross student, that I don’t see. Dr. Reverend Washington challenged us to open our eyes, to see the world beyond our own individualism– to become Conscious of the struggle for human rights and dignity, to pursue the freedom for all that MLK pursued; to, adding on to MLK’s legendary words, “live the dream intentionally.”

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Katharine Shapleigh '13

  • Studies: Studies in world literature major with Peace and Conflict Studies concentration
  • Hometown: St. Louis
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