City Year Founding Story: Everybody Can Be Great

Everybody can be great, because
everybody can serve. You don’t have
to have a college degree to serve.
You don’t have to make your subject
and your verb agree to serve. You
don’t have to know about Plato and
Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to
know Einstein’s theory of relativity
to serve. You don’t have to know the
second theory of thermodynamics
in physics to serve. You only need a
heart full of grace, a soul generated
by love.

– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“The Drum Major Instinct”
Ebenezer Baptist Church
Atlanta, Georgia
February 4, 1968

 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s idea of greatness is neither elitist nor exclusive. Yet, at the same time, everyone is not automatically great. Rather, each person has the potential to achieve greatness because every person has something to offer and to contribute through service. Greatness is available to all through unselfish action fueled by unselfish motivation. Dr. King sees the inherent dignity that every human being can achieve through service, a common meeting ground that requires no worldly credentials to enter. Service is a great equalizer that eliminates social division. If we truly believe that everyone can be great, then we must always remember to put this ideal into practice by assuming, finding, and appealing to the greatness in everyone. Everyone has something to offer, something to contribute, even if at first they do not know it, or we cannot see it.

 

City Year Founding Story: Everybody Can Be Great art