Skip to content Skip to Live Chat

How MLK's Views Shaped My Personal Journey

Denver resident Corey Edwards describes how King's ideas helped form Edwards' views of education.

Jan 18, 2021

By Corey Edwards, Director of WGU's Northwest Regional Operations

On this MLK day, coming out of a stressful year and beginning the next with little calm on the horizon, it’s tempting to focus only on the resonant “dream” that Dr. King shared with us.  The dream that for most Americans is likely the most familiar of Dr. King’s ideas. The dream that my daughter just told me is the only thing her former school ever talked about during Black History Month. I’m not going to focus on that well-traveled dream this season, because for much of these past several months, I’ve felt like I’m living in a nightmare.  Trapped in a country that was not designed for me.  Watching people who used to be in my circle, demand for a return to an America they considered great, while continuing to praise a Constitution and systems that were built on the premise that I was only 3/5 of a human.  

Instead, I want to point to lesser-known wisdom that Dr. King dropped early in his crusade for a better America.  Wisdom that resonates deeply with me because of the career I’ve chosen, and the transformational impact this wisdom has had on my own life and the life of many other people across the country.

While Martin Luther King, Jr. attended Morehouse College as an undergraduate, he wrote an essay in the campus newspaper entitled, “The Purpose of Education”.  If you’ve not read it, I encourage you to broaden your view of MLK by looking it up. I point to a particular passage that unfortunately is as relevant today as it was when it was published. 

“Education must also train one for quick, resolute and effective thinking. To think incisively and to think for one’s self is very difficult. We are prone to let our mental life become invaded by legions of half truths, prejudices, and propaganda. At this point, I often wonder whether or not education is fulfilling its purpose. A great majority of the so-called educated people do not think logically and scientifically.”

To think that King understood this and was able to articulate it at such an early age greatly impresses me. I began to realize these truths around my senior year in college – which for me, as a non-traditional senior, meant I was thirteen years removed from high school graduation.  I recall vividly listening to a Media History lecture, when my professor pointed out that history is always written by the victorious. That felt like a face-punch, given the fact that I rarely saw Black stories in the history books of our school systems. Did they think we were the losers? It was then that I recognized, despite being a 30-year-old Black man in this country with a high school diploma and over a 100 college credits, that I was uneducated.  It was at that moment that I began to think logically and scientifically, as Dr. King called out in his paper. I became curious; I began to look for the other side of every story; I grew hungry for the stories of the oppressed.

In our country today, I too question the effectiveness of education in helping enough people see their half-truths. But what keeps me going, after questioning everything, is that I can see how a high-quality education still works.  Yes, I see “educated” folks at both ends of the political spectrum act with self-indulgence and destructiveness; but I also understand where education lifted me from. Education got me past gatekeepers who were conditioned to keep people like me out. Education equipped me to perform in the rooms where decision makers are making decisions. Education allows me to pass on these lessons and skills to those within my circle of influence.

But not everyone has equal access to education. For every me, there are hundreds of talented people just like me that did not have my opportunities. I don’t believe there is one single factor to point to for blame, but rather a combination of things like cost, availability, flexibility, policy, mentors, navigators and more. This list is significant, but not so significant that we can’t work through the challenges. 

When I joined WGU in 2020, it was because I saw myself in their mission and purpose statements . . . “to create pathways to opportunity,” and “to change lives for the better by bridging the gap between talent and opportunity.”

This, to me, is the purpose of education that Dr. King speaks to in his essay. WGU has worked for more than 20 years to chip away at barriers to higher education by offering one of the lowest tuitions among all universities, creating an accessible delivery model that is fully online, and providing a flexible option that allows for self-paced coursework and a generous transfer policy. Our faculty mentors match student education dreams and career demands with the WGU path that can lead them to both. Quick, resolute and effective thinking—I would not steal Dr. King’s words for our motto, but his insight describes what we strive for every day. 

In honor of Dr. King and his championing of education for all, WGU has the “I Have a Dream” scholarship available to new students looking to earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree in business, information technology, healthcare or education. Applications are due by June 30, 2021. Colorado students can find more information at

Recommended Articles

Take a look at other articles from WGU. Our articles feature information on a wide variety of subjects, written with the help of subject matter experts and researchers who are well-versed in their industries. This allows us to provide articles with interesting, relevant, and accurate information.