We are all MLK



Campus-Wide Community Unity Dialogue: Safeguarding Beloved Community

October 12, noon – 1 p.m. in T.1400

Students, get a head-start on your submission to the Oratorical Contest by attending!   
(See below for details)

Safeguarding Beloved Community

Minneapolis College is hosting a speech and performance contest  
as part of its 2024 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration.


Minneapolis College students and high school seniors from Metro Area High Schools are invited to submit a 500 to 1000-word speech or performance piece in response to the following questions and prompt-

  • What is “the drum major instinct,” and how does it distort personality?
  • Where do you see contemporary examples of its negative influence? Why should these examples be the source of alarm?
  • How does Dr. King’s “new definition of greatness” relate to our theme of Safeguarding Beloved Community?

"And there is, deep down within all of us, an instinct. It’s a kind of drum major instinct—a desire to be out front, desire to lead the parade, a desire to be first. We all want to be important to surpass others, to achieve distinction… I want to move to saying that if this instinct is not harnessed, it becomes a very dangerous, pernicious instinct… The final great tragedy of the distorted personality is the fact that when one fails to harness this instinct, (s)he ends by trying to push others down in order to push (her)himself up. 

The drum major instinct can lead to exclusivism in one’s thinking and can lead one to feel that because (s)he has some training, (s)he’s a little better than that person that doesn’t have it, or because (s)he has some economic security, that (s)he’s a little better than the person who doesn’t have it. 

Do you know that a lot of the race problem grows out of the drum major instinct? A need that some people must feel superior… And we have perverted the drum major instinct. But let me rush on to my conclusion by giving a new definition of greatness. True greatness comes not by favoritism, but by fitness. If you want to be important—wonderful.

If you want to be recognized—wonderful. But recognize that (s)he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. It means that everybody can be great because everybody can serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love. And you can be that servant."

—Martin Luther King, Jr., The Drum Major Instinct (February 4, 1968)

Five \$1000 scholarship prizes to Minneapolis College will be awarded to Minneapolis College students and one \$1,000 scholarship prize to a High School senior from the Metro area. Prizes will be awarded in five categories: Best Argued, Best Researched, Most Impassioned, Most Creative and Most Relevant. Winners will be featured in MLK Day virtual celebration.

One submission is allowed per student.   
Use the email subject line “MLK Day Oratorical Contest.”   
Email submissions to: Charles.Watson@minneapolis.edu 
DEADLINE: Monday, December 18, 2023

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration

A virtual celebration will take place on Thursday, January 18, 2024. Visit this webpage for updates.