“I want to say to San Antonio, good evening,” Freeman A. Hrabowski III said as he began his address to Trinity students, faculty, and community members who attended the MLK commemorative lecture last Thursday. University president Danny Anderson introduced Hrabowski as the guest speaker of the commemoration of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, and welcomed him to an atmosphere filled with anticipation and excitement in Laurie Auditorium. All in attendance were eager to hear Hrabowski’s thoughts on Dr. King’s legacy, and on the social responsibilities that university campuses across the country have in ensuring that every student is afforded the best education possible, regardless of their race, gender, or socioeconomic status.
From the time Hrabowski was a little boy, he was fascinated by the study of mathematics and always searched for a way to better his education. However, as an African-American child from the south, his pursuit of learning during his childhood was difficult because everything handed down to his school was often discarded, not updated and not of beneficial use to the African-American children for which these hand-me-down materials were left. Being plagued by the injustices of not receiving the best education possible because of the color of his skin, as well as growing up and seeing the fervor at which Dr. King spoke about seeking equality among all people, Hrabowski was inspired to become involved in a peaceful protest at the age of twelve in Birmingham, Alabama, which consequently landed him in jail and kicked out of his school.
Fueled by these reoccurring atrocities, Hrabowski made it his life mission to empower his students to strive for anything and everything they wanted to achieve in their lifetime.
“We are empowered to think about our future and this dream is not just for one type of people, but it is a dream about the possibility of the future of mankind,” he said.
Hrabowski highlighted that his passion for wanting a better future for all stemmed from the type of person that Dr. King was. He illustrated Dr. King as an individual who spoke up for a group of people when no one else would, Hrabowski explained the importance of learning from the likes of Dr. King and stressed the importance of everyone being capable of doing things just as extraordinary as Dr. King.
Many students were impacted by Hrabowski’s message.
“I think the lecture was very interesting because he talked a lot about how the time period he grew up in affected the people in his life, and the chances of being able to obtain an education,” said first-year Ella Oduguwa. “The atmosphere was very attentive, and I did not see a single person not fully interested in what the speaker [Hrabowski] was communicating. His anecdotes really connected with the audience.”
Hrabowski challenged members of the audience with the challenge to look within themselves and contemplate questions of race and inequality issues that are still prevalent in America today.
“Each of us has a story, but remember that as you prepare to lead, because you will be a leader; think about what you want your legacy to be. Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.”