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Reflections on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
Nona Ferguson

​I had an opportunity to attend the local General Mills Foundation/United Negro College Fund annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Breakfast with colleagues from the Wilder Foundation. The keynote speaker, Donna Brazile, was amazing. I was anticipating a great speech that would motivate, encourage and spring me forward into action, and she did not disappoint. Her story of becoming a servant leader was compelling because she reminded me that we can all serve, even children. Her call to serve came at an early age, roughly age 8 or 9, as a direct response to the death of Dr. King. She began to register voters as her first act of service. Since hearing her speak, I have reflected on her challenge that we can all serve.

I have many reasons that I have not done more volunteering of my time and talents. I am certain that many of us share the same reasons: too busy with family and work expectations -- and the list continues. I then thought about what my life would look like without those who sacrificed and were not too busy to get involved and make a difference for my generation.  Would I have had the opportunity to attend college, own a home in a neighborhood of my choosing or have the right to vote? I am grateful and humbled by the sacrifices so many made for me to have the opportunity and choices that I have today.

Wilder Foundation staff and friends gather at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Breakfast.
Wilder Foundation staff and friends gather at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Breakfast.
I recognize that we as a nation have made tremendous gains; however, this is not true for all children and families. Minnesota has some of the widest homeownership and educational attainment gaps between racial groups in the nation. These divides are not new, but they are persistent. All families have a right to earn a wage that allows them to meet their basic needs. All children have the right to receive a high quality education that prepares them for post-secondary education and the global marketplace. So, yes, there is still a need to serve; I have decided to stop complaining about the problem and finding reasons not to get involved and, instead, to find ONE place to show up and help.

You can answer the call to serve also by going to www.mlkbreakfast.com/service to find a volunteer opportunity. Now is my chance to do my part to secure a good future for those coming after me!        

Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'

– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Nona Ferguson is the Director of Wilder’s Family Supportive Housing Services and a co-leader of Ujima, an employee resource group that raises and supports issues impacting Wilder's employees of African descent.

 

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Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, 451 Lexington Parkway North, Saint Paul, Minnesota 55104 Phone: 651-280-2000
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