Good morning, it’s Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, the day of the week when I reprise a quote meant to be inspiring or elucidating. Today’s comes from a speech by Martin Luther King Jr., born this day in 1929. His address on Oct. 26, 1967, in Philadelphia wasn’t about civil rights per se, although he would talk on that subject at Saint Joseph’s University that same day and then deliver opening remarks at a “Stars for Freedom” event at the Spectrum featuring Harry Belafonte, Sidney Portier, and Aretha Franklin.
First, however, King delivered a fatherly pep talk to the student body at Barratt Junior High School in Philly. Included in that 20-minute address were words to live by -- for people of any race, of any age, in any era. They are as uplifting now as they were 54 years ago.
Before reciting them, I’d point you to RCP’s front page, which presents our poll averages, videos, breaking news stories, and aggregated opinion pieces spanning the political spectrum. Today’s lineup includes Alisyn Camerota (CNN), Rebecca Traister (New York magazine) and Daniel Flynn (American Spectator). We also offer original material from our own reporters, columnists, and contributors, including the following:
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2009 Redux? Biden Cites “Urgent” Need for His $1.9 Trillion Stimulus. Phil Wegmann reports on last night’s announcement, which harkened back to the plan overseen 11 years ago by then-Vice President Joe Biden.
Impeachment’s Biggest Loser. Liz Peek writes that Democrats’ rush to judgment suggests the president-elect is not really in charge of his political party.
Big Tech’s Conservative Purge Changes the Free Speech Debate. Alfredo Ortiz argues that it’s time for regulating web-hosting companies in ways akin to rules for public utilities.
Electoral College Needed Now More Than Ever. Jennifer C. Braceras explains why the protests that took place last week would become more frequent if a national popular vote system were put in place.
Five Facts on the U.S. Capitol Police. At RealClearPolicy, No Labels has this primer.
I Work at an ICE Processing Center. The Media Is Wrong. Also at RCPolicy, Brandi Buendel counters the narrative that poor care is rendered at immigration facilities.
Why Returning to the Iran Nuclear Deal Is Unwise. At RealClearWorld, Jacob Nagel urges Biden to seek a new agreement that brings Israel into the negotiations.
The Path to States Going 100% Renewable. At RealClearEnergy, Jane Marsh outlines a way forward.
New EPA Rule Follows the Science. At RealClearScience, Joseph Annotti defends a policy change restricting the agency’s ability to impose regulations that rely on scientifically unfounded research.
Education in America’s Ideals. At RealClearWire, Mike Sabo focuses on how the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal promotes a revamped civics education curriculum, among other goals.
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Speaking to a nearly all-black student body, King prefaced his central message by bolstering their self-esteem, beginning with their skin color, hair, and physical features -- telling them that they should be proud of how they look and embrace the concept that “Black Is Beautiful.” But the heart of his message was that they should have a “blueprint” for their lives.
“Whenever a building is constructed, you usually have an architect who draws a blueprint,” he said. “And that blueprint serves as the pattern, as the guide, as the model for those who are to build the building. And a building is not well erected without a good, sound, and solid blueprint.”
The Rev. King then got to the heart of his message, which is that whatever endeavors they chose to pursue in life they must be determined “to achieve excellence.” Opportunities were about to unfold for them, he predicted, that had not been open to previous generations of African Americans. They must aim high.
“Don’t set out to be just a good Negro doctor, a good Negro lawyer, a good Negro school teacher, a good Negro preacher, a good Negro barber, a beautician, a good Negro skilled laborer,” he said. “For if you set out to do that, you have already flunked your matriculation exam for entrance into the University of Integration. Set out to do a good job and do that job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn couldn’t do it any better.”
Then, in words that apply to all of us -- or should -- Dr. King continued:
“If it falls to your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures. Sweep streets like Beethoven composed music. Sweep streets like Leontyne Price sings before the Metropolitan Opera and sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well.’”
And that’s our quote of the week.
Carl M. Cannon
Washington Bureau chief, RealClearPolitics