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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

URI freshman writes a winning manifesto

KINGSTON, R.I. -- February 9, 2001 -- Ian Reasor of Narragansett, a freshman at the University of Rhode Island, is the winner of this year’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Essay Contest. The contest was sponsored by URI’s Chaplains, the Honors Colloquium, the URI Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies, and the African and Afro-American Studies Program.

The theme of the essay comes from Coretta Scott King’s convocation address that was also the first in this year’s Honors Colloquium series at URI. In that speech, King quoted Horace Mann’s challenge: "Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity." She went on to say, "Your generation has been anointed to put an end to poverty and racism, to restore the environment and secure human rights for the people of our world. No matter what academic major or career path you choose, commit yourself to the world-wide struggle against poverty, racism and violence." King then challenged students to write their own personal manifesto.

Reasor said he was inspired to write his winning essay after working two years with City Year in Newport and being introduced to the concept of non-violence. "While I was there, I learned a decent amount about Robert Kennedy, Dr. King, and Gandhi. After a while I began doing my own research. Nonviolence is a core part of my life’s mission," he said.

Reasor received $100 for his effort. When asked what he was going to do with it, he replied with a smile: "Spend it. I’m a college student."

Reasor’s essay, which can be reprinted, follows.

I do not think of political power as an end—by Ian Reasor

I do not think of political power as an end. Neither do I think of economic power as an end. They are ingredients in the objective that we seek in life. And I think that end or that objective is a truly brotherly society, the creation of the beloved community. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Christian Century, July 13, 1966.

Dr. King spoke the words above nearly 40 years ago, yet they serve to guide and inspire many people today. My personal mission is indeed one of non-violence. My life’s mission is to make strides toward the beloved community that Dr. King spoke of.

A wise man once said that in order to make change, you must first become the change that you wish to make. This is stage one of instituting the beloved community. If I expect other people to all treat each other unselfishly as equals, I must first treat all people unselfishly and as my equal. This in itself will set off stage two.

In South Africa in 1966, Robert F. Kennedy addressed an anti-apartheid organization with these words. "Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."

I believe that these "tiny ripples of hope" are sent out for every good action that I do. These actions will inspire others to act in a similar fashion. When the energy from these waves of good intention is instilled in our society, things will change. The beloved community will become a reality.

My dream is also one of realism. I understand that it is not probable that I will see the beloved community in my lifetime. Therefore I live my life as a cathedral builder. In Medieval Europe, enormous cathedrals were erected that took hundreds of years. The quality of craftsmanship was so great that even today they remain standing in all of their glory. These workers knew that they would never see the cathedral finished, but they worked hard to produce a quality product nevertheless. They worked for the future. All of this boils down to one basic rule of thumb that we all learned while we were in kindergarten. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

For Information: Jan Sawyer, 874-2116

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