MLK IIII Speaks to YouthBuild Graduates

Just a day before Martin Luther King III spoke to a crowd of thousands at the National Mall in honor of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington last Saturday, he spent moment celebrating education at YouthBuild Philadelphia Charter School.

“Where you are in your lives is the result of the energy and the fact that you each of chosen to take a step to take charge for your future,” he told the more than 100 graduates, ages 18-21, who are former high school dropouts.

The students successfully earned their high school diplomas while rebuilding their communities with construction skills learned through YouthBuild’s on-the-job training program.

“YouthBuild Philadelphia is an example of the ‘Beloved Community’ envisioned by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., where all people are respected, loved and given the opportunity to fulfill their own potential and give back to their communities,” said Dorothy Stoneman, CEO and Founder of YouthBuild USA, in a press release. “Through YouthBuild programs across our nation, students build affordable housing for their neighbors while studying for their high school diplomas.  In return for their community service, many earn AmeriCorps education awards to help pay for college.”

The son of the iconic Civil Rights leader also made reference to his famous father during his keynote speech.

“My dad often said that at the cornerstone of our democracy is for us to acquire education. Because you see, we live in a nation and a world that is changing dramatically every day,” he said. “And while this is an important graduation for each of you–and it’s a huge step–it’s not the ending, but it really is the beginning of what you should do within your lives.

“Civil rights is alive, my friends,” he concluded. ” And my dad would be telling us that we have to find a way to create jobs and opportunities. The mantra in 1963 was Jobs and Freedom. In 2013, it’s Jobs, Freedom and Justice.”