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MLK Day at TEDxBeaconStreet

At TEDxBeaconStreet, diversity is our strength, and we don’t dodge the tough questions. In fact, we welcome them. That’s how we grow.

There’s been controversy this year about what it really means to honor a legacy like Dr.  Martin Luther King Jr’s. Not only did Dr. King have a tremendous impact on the whole world, but his dream, as we pointed out in our piece on his work last year, is still unrealized. Adding his name to a movement or an opinion gives it power, but it behooves those who claim to carry on his work to take into account the complicated nature of human endeavors, and the impossibility of reducing a life’s work to a phrase or an event.

We had several talks on our stage this year that engaged with the complicated nature of human problems.  Sheryl Winarick, a TED resident, talked about the resilience of immigrants, and how getting to know someone as a person can break down the fear of difference. Tony Batts and Eric Kowalczyk talked about the difficulties of police work in polarized communities, and how difficult it is to get at the root causes of social issues in the limited time a police call allows. Crystal Emery talked about how she consistently needs to overcome the assumptions people make because she’s a black woman in a wheelchair- a whole new kind of “triple threat.” Others, like David Howse and Cheyenne Cochrane, talked about how they have made careers by having conversations about bias around simple physical realities, like black women with natural hair, or white men with beards.

We’re very proud of these Speakers, and of all our Speakers, for asking the tough questions. In a true representation of change, open-mindedness, and thoughtful engagement, they encouraged our audience to ask questions of themselves and others, to engage with their everyday experience in an analytical way.

To honor Dr. King’s legacy, it is imperative that we face our history, the good, the bad, and the ugly. We need to choose to engage with talks and people like these, who’ve turned to the difficult human problems of which they’re a part and said, “How can I help?” Check out these talks to find out how our Speakers answered that question.