Word for Word: Martin Luther King III shares his father’s advice at 2016 Florida rally for education choice


Editor’s note: Seven years ago this week, 10,000 supporters marched on Tallahassee to fight for the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship program, which was the target of a lawsuit backed the state’s largest teachers union and others who opposed the income-based K-12 scholarships. Headlining the parade of civil rights leaders who spoke that day was Martin Luther King III. The younger King has supported education choice, described recently as the civil rights issue of our time, as an extension of his father’s legacy. He has said he sees no reason for it to put public and private school supporters at odds. As for the lawsuit, the Florida Supreme Court rejected it a year later, though efforts to expand opportunities for parents to choose the best educational fit for their children continue.  In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, here are excerpts from his remarks. You can watch a video of all the speeches here.

My dad, I don’t really know if I can actually speak to what he would speak today, but I can say is that he would always stand up for justice. This is about justice; this is about righteousness. This is about freedom — the freedom to choose for your family and your child.

My dad told us a lot of things. He used to say that the ultimate measure of the human being is not where one stands in times of comfort and convenience. But where one stands in times of challenge and controversy.

He went on to say that on some questions, cowardice asks: Is the position safe? He said expediency asks: Is the position politic? He said vanity asks: Is the position popular? But that something deep inside called conscience asks: Is the position right?

He went on to say that sometimes we must stand up for positions that are neither safe nor popular nor politic. But we must stand up because our consciences tell us they’re right.

That’s what we are here for today. Because we’re standing on the right side of what’s right for our children …

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BY Lisa Buie

Lisa Buie is senior reporter for NextSteps. The daughter of a public school superintendent, she spent more than a dozen years as a reporter and bureau chief at the Tampa Bay Times before joining Shriners Hospitals for Children — Tampa, where she served for nearly five years as marketing and communications manager. She lives with her husband and their teenage son, who has benefited from education choice.