Voices in My Head!!!: Educating a King

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”  Martin Luther King, Jr.


If I had to guess, the young lady to Dr. King’s left is his sister, Christine King Farris. I think that I know this because this resembles the face that used to peer at my classmates and I over glasses that perched on her nose, while delivering her weekly history lessons in what was supposed to be our Multicultural literature course….or something of the sort.

king 1

While Dr. King was a ‘man of the house,” as we Spelman women so affectionately (and sometimes not so affectionately ;-), referred to our Morehouse brothers. His sister, Christine, was a Spelman woman, my  Spelman sister. As I reflect today and think about Dr. King and Ms. Farris, my thoughts may be similar to that of many of my Spelman sisters and Morehouse brothers today. I am proud to be apart of this family.


The Morehouse-Spelman family is one deeply rooted in the ideal of education quoted by Dr. King. The ideal that education should be the joining of intelligence and character. While my parents may have begun the lesson, Spelman drove it home. I spent my college years learning much more than how to think intensively and critically, while those both were mandatory requirements. I learned who I was and why I was, my purpose and my destiny. I learned how to love myself and in essence my brothers and sisters. When I think back to the voices that are left in my head from those years at my beloved Alma matter….they continue to urge me still today to take this world by storm and leave it better than when I came.

the maroon tiger

Writing for The Maroon Tiger, Morehouse College’s student newspaper, Dr. King discusses his views on education while a still a student.

As I engage in the so-called “bull sessions” around and about the school, I too often find that most college men have a misconception of the purpose of education. Most of the “brethren” think that education should equip them with the proper instruments of exploitation so that they can forever trample over the masses. Still others think that education should furnish them with noble ends rather than means to an end.

It seems to me that education has a two-fold function to perform in the life of man and in society: the one is utility and the other is culture. Education must enable a man to become more efficient, to achieve with increasing facility the legitimate goals of his life.

Education must also train one for quick, resolute and effective thinking. To think incisively and to think for one’s self is very difficult. We are prone to let our mental life become invaded by legions of half truths, prejudices, and propaganda. At this point, I often wonder whether or not education is fulfilling its purpose. A great majority of the so-called educated people do not think logically and scientifically. Even the press, the classroom, the platform, and the pulpit in many instances do not give us objective and unbiased truths. To save man from the morass of propaganda, in my opinion, is one of the chief aims of education. Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction.

The function of education, therefore, is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. But education which stops with efficiency may prove the greatest menace to society. The most dangerous criminal may be the man gifted with reason, but with no morals.

The late Eugene Talmadge, in my opinion, possessed one of the better minds of Georgia, or even America. Moreover, he wore the Phi Beta Kappa key. By all measuring rods, Mr. Talmadge could think critically and intensively; yet he contends that I am an inferior being. Are those the types of men we call educated?

We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character–that is the goal of true education. The complete education gives one not only power of concentration, but worthy objectives upon which to concentrate. The broad education will, therefore, transmit to one not only the accumulated knowledge of the race but also the accumulated experience of social living.

If we are not careful, our colleges will produce a group of close-minded, unscientific, illogical propagandists, consumed with immoral acts. Be careful, “brethren!” Be careful, teachers!”

PD. Maroon Tiger (January-February 1947): 10. Copy in GD.

king 2

We all know the story. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. graduates Morehouse College and goes on to be one of the most influential people in history. Children are taught about his dream. Students still debate his methods and ideology. Mankind is changed because of his life’s work. A work that began through his education, by a family of educators who believed that education was the blending of intelligence and character. A blending that Dr. King personified.



The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr.: Volume 1: Called to Serve, January 1929-June 1951: 1st Edition http://mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu/index.php/encyclopedia/documentsentry/doc_470200_000/




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