AIESEC at ECOSOC Youth Forum 2017

President of AIESEC, Niels Caszo, is addressing governments and youth networks at ECOSOC Youth Forum 2017

United Nations Headquarters, New York: AIESEC believes in the importance of involving youth in global initiatives and collaborating with like minded organizations to create a wider impact in the world. Therefore, Niels Caszo, Global President of AIESEC, will be present at ECOSOC Youth Forum 2017 as a speaker and panelist together with numerous thought leaders, such as the H.E. Mr. Peter Thomson, President of General Assembly; Mr. Werner Fraymann, UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Youth Unemployment; Mr. Ahmad Alhindawi, UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth and others.

The ECOSOC Youth Forum, to be held from 30 to 31 January 2017, will take place at the United Nations Headquarters, New York. The purpose of the event is to provide a platform for young people to engage in a dialogue with the Member States on the themes of the ECOSOC High-level Segment, including the HLPF, as well as to share knowledge on achieving youth development by promoting the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

WhatsApp Image 2017-01-30 at 22.05.46On Monday, 30th, Mr. Caszo will address the Ministerial Roundtable on “The role of youth in poverty eradication and promoting prosperity” with a note on the efficiency of engaging youth in the implementation of the SDGs. Later, he will be part of a panel discussion ‘Build resilient infrastructure, promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation’ hosted by UNIDO.

On 31st of January, Mr. Caszo will moderate the panel Creating Decent Jobs for Youth with Mr. Werner Fraymann, UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Youth Unemployment and Mr. Christopher Eigeland, UN Youth Delegate, Australia.

To close these days, Mr. Caszo will present the results of AIESEC Youth 4 Global Goals initiative at the #ONEFORALL platform launch at the PVBLIC Digital Media Zone. The initiative aims to mobilize youth to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and engaged almost 90.000 young people in 120 countries in 2016. The full report of the initiative is here: youth4globalgoals.org. Follow Mr. Cazo’s presentation at PVBLIC Digital Media Zone here: http://sdgmediazone.org/ecosoc/

Follow the live stream of AIESEC participation at our global Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/AIESECglobal 

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Let’s talk about Poverty

Blogpost Writer: Frans Astala

Poverty is one of the most fundamental problems of humanity.  It is present throughout the world and in contrast to the simplicity of its definition, scarcity or lack of money or possessions, it lacks a simple solution. Today, the young leaders of the world will get together to talk about the eradication of poverty and focusing on the role of youth in it. The 2-day forum, hosted by the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, will hold one of its foci on the concept of “shared prosperity”; an attempt to bring forth a different way of looking at economic growth, namely from the perspective of a nation’s’ bottom 40%. 

Perhaps one of the most debated aspects of globalization is whether the wealth it is supposed to generate is actually benefitting those who need it the most. Unarguably that is not always the case. They say that what you measure is what you get, so if that holds true, shared prosperity might just be something worth measuring. Whatever the case, it is a step to reframe the discussion on economic growth to take inclusiveness into account.

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But as poverty is still rampant despite the efforts of governments and other powerful instances, what is the role of individual young people in finding solutions, and what is it that we could do to make a change? Even if today the decisions are made by someone else, we have one thing on our side; time. Eventually the biggest decisions will be made by the youth of today.

Meanwhile there are other ways to make an impact. What you can do is to educate yourself about poverty, and expose yourself to the reality where poverty affects the everyday life of people, and then help the in the way you able to do so. Especially in the most prosperous nations it is easy to close your eyes from the reality a large part of people of the world live in.  836  million people live in extreme poverty. One in five people in developing regions live under $ 1.25 a day.  These numbers are high, but in general we are much better at understanding people than we are understanding statistics. Numbers don’t motivate us to act in the same way as people do.

If you’re reading this text the chances are that you’re already interested these issues, but the question also revolves around how can we  get more people to care enough to bring about change. The more people care the louder our voice, as youth, be.

Solutions to these kinds of problems are never simple, but that doesn’t mean that we should give up trying to find solutions to them. So even if you aren’t a big boss in an influential organization, there’s still something everyone can do in their scope, no matter who they are.

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For us in AIESEC, being a leader is also about being a world citizen; it means believing in one’s ability to make a difference, and enjoying taking responsibility for improving the world. This requires you getting out of your comfort zone and standing up for what you believe in, and doing something about it.

You can make a difference. Here.

The question this week: Peace = Justice?

Blogspot writer: Jakub Wolf

“Every time we turn our heads the other way when we see the law flouted, when we tolerate what we know to be wrong, when we close our eyes and ears to the corrupt because we are too busy or too frightened, when we fail to speak up and speak out, we strike a blow against freedom and decency and justice.” - Robert F. Kennedy

SDG 16, Peace Justice and Strong Institutions, is all about ensuring an equal level of standards for everyone, no matter from which background and enabling everyone to lead peaceful lives among each other.


This week in SDG X is a novel writing initiative to keep the network and the blog’s loyal readers up-to-date with a brief collection of news directly related to the Global Goals.


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The event ‘Building Sustainable Peace for All: Synergies between the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Sustaining Peace’ took place in New York at the UN Headquarters from 24-25 of January 2017.

When opening the meeting, UNGA President Peter Thomson stated that at this time 2 billion people live in countries affected by fragility, conflict and violence. At the same conference, Frederick Musiiwa Makamure Shava, President of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), stated that the participation of women, young people and vulnerable groups in economic and political decisions is vital to achieving a situation of sustainable peace.

“Delivering closing remarks, President Thomson said he will work with the Presidents of the Security Council and ECOSOC, the UN Secretary-General and the incoming PBC Chair on ways to improve coherence and coordination of the UN’s peace, development and human rights efforts.”  – Ana Maria Lebada for IISD 

With this topic being a very broad one, discussions can last for a very long time. President Thomson’s exact plans are yet to be revealed but are sure result in many improvements inside the United Nations and as a result, to the whole world.

SDG 16 is a very important one in AIESEC. Our vision is “Peace and fulfillment of humankinds potential”. We strive to activate every young person in the world and by developing their leadership, ensure a time of peace and justice for our planet. By nurturing leadership development in all of our exchange programs, including our members, we are developing many young people every year and contributing to a more peaceful future.

It was Pope Paul VI who said “If you want peace, work for justice”. We all have to contribute to creating equal opportunities before we can assure a peaceful environment for all. Are you doing your part?

March, Roar: On Women’s Rights

Blogpost writer: Frans Astala

Over half a million people participated in the Women’s March in Washington D.C. last Saturday. In addition to this, through hundreds of cities around the world, dubbed sister marches were organised, from Australia to Argentina; serving a powerful call for women’s rights. 


Last Monday we discussed the Civil Rights movement in honor of Martin Luther King day, “The bigger a movement grows, the more diverse it will become in thought, and the more opinions you have on what actions should be taken. “


Just as with the Civil Rights movement, it’s good to stop and think for a minute about how we’ve gotten to where we are right now and what has actually changed. The history of the women’s rights movement goes back to the 19th century and in the beginning it’s main goal was to achieve universal suffrage, the right for women to vote in election. The first country that would implement this was New Zealand in 1893.

Looking at the world today, over a hundred years later, we can see that we’ve come far, but unfortunately rather unequally. What the most progressive countries achieved already in the late 19th century, some countries are still struggling with today. 

Moreover, most of the marches were organized in western countries, half of them in the United States. The fact that women are voicing their opinions more in developed countries only highlights the disparities between the rights of women in different parts of the world.

Canada Womens March   Australians Take Part In Women's Marches To Protest Trump Inauguration TBC

But we also know from the countries that have made the most progress that women’s rights are not simply a matter of passing laws. If it was, these marches wouldn’t be happening. Laws are always interpreted by people and what is needed on top of that is the application of law equally and the equal treatment of both genders. African Americans were technically allowed to vote in the United States prior to the civil rights movement, but the rules were applied in a way that made voting practically impossible. 

Equality is also about the attitudes of individual people who make up a society. This is why we also need to raise awareness, and why we need role models. We can ask if it is equality if individuals of both genders technically have the same opportunities, but because of attitudes embedded in a culture they are still treated differently. For this reason it’s important not only to strive to change the institutions and laws, but also to influence the attitudes of individuals.

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AIESEC is an organization that seeks to activate leadership in young people, which is about essentially empowering people. Our vision is to strive for peace and fulfilment of humankind’s potential, and humankind encompasses both genders. Though we won’t be able to change the legal system, we are able through cross-cultural exchange to show people that different realities are possible, and thus influencing individuals on a grass-root level through volunteering projects around the world.

And it’s easy, projects managed on raising awareness on issues of gender-equality are a click away. Volunteer here.

This week: The prosperity of cross-sector partnerships

 


“Our problems are man-made, therefore they may be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings.”

– John F. Kennedy


 

These were the words of John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States of America.
He states, that since our problems are caused by us, they can be solved by us, and that we can be as big as we want. That is what SDG #17 Partnerships for the Goals is all about, to create purposeful partnerships and by doing so, increase the exchange of knowledge among different sectors and offer financial support so as to achieve great things.

michelangelo-abstract-boy-child-73805This week in SDG X is a novel writing initiative to keep the network and the blog’s loyal readers up-to-date with a brief collection of news directly related to the Global Goals.

The World Economic Forum hosts an annual meeting in Switzerland in Davos-Klosters, aimed at fostering the collaboration between the industries’ top leaders and to shape the global, regional and industry agendas at the beginning of every year. This meeting is heppend this week. On January 19th, Antonio Guterres, the new Secretary General of the United Nations, spoke there and called for stronger partnerships with the business sector to limit the impact of climate change and to reduce poverty. He went on to say, that collaborations with the private sector are incremental, to develop new areas in the economy, while ensuring mutual support to the public and private sectors.

“The best allies of all those that want to make sure that the Paris Agreement is implemented, the best allies today in the world are probably in the business sector and it is very important to fully mobilize them” he stated.

On that note, at the same conference Unilever’s Lifebuoy and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, joined forces and committed to tackling preventable diseases and save hundreds of thousands of lives of young, vulnerable children. By doing so, they will not only be contributing to SDG 17 but will as well make huge advances for SDG 3 Good Health and Well-Being and SDG 6 Clean Water and Sanitation.

AIESEC and Unilever started their partnership around 10 years ago, with a refreshment occurring last year. The purpose of it, was to give them access to voices of young people all around the world and to mobilize them to contribute to the SDGs while developing their leadership.

“The SDGs set out a positive vision for the future, but it will need collective action to get there. It is in the interest of business, government and civil society alike to accelerate progress towards this vision.”

Unilever having this goal, shows that they are committed to doing their part towards contributing to the 2030 agenda. Having set an objective of aligning all of their sub-products to one or more SDGs, they show that they are truly a progressive brand and ready to commit to making a change hand-in-hand with young people.

Partnerships are the key to unlocking many possibilities in terms of contributing to the Global Goals and it is vital that we show our support to anyone who tries to help.

A Game of Musical Chairs: On Youth Participation

Blogpost Writer: Laura Sabrina Al Bast

Abraham Lincoln’s famous words, Government of the people, for the people, by the people, are often quoted as a definition of democracy. And though it has been excessively challenged and demanded over the years, democracy is characterized with implementing the will of the people.

The people in that case, are everyone; men and women, young and old alike. Democratic nations or not, young people have been particularly missing from the field of decision-making; Their voices storming muted streets, thoughts lost amongst a digital sea of 140-characters, and actions ridiculed purely based on a scale comparing age to credibility, age to wisdom, age to freedom. That doesn’t mean that the challenges youth have faced in the past year went in vain, on the contrary, youth have strived to create solutions to these challenges. They didn’t give up, they committed to make the world a better place.

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UK Youth Parliament

Yet in major governments around the world, based on a 2013 UNDP report, the average age of parliamentarians globally is 53, and 1.65% of parliamentarians around the world are in their 20s. In accordance, 73% of countries restrict young people from running for office. It’s almost like a game of musical chairs where youth are left standing, losing an opportunity at the round-table to represent. And though some countries have done a significant effort to spare open seats as the UK with their Youth Parliament or Mongolia’s efforts to empower youth through Civic Education, many youths are still at a disadvantage and various programs are not made easy to access.

Last November, I attended the Launch of the 2016 Arab Human Development Report on ‘Youth and the Prospects for Human Development in a Changing Reality.’ What really struck me wasn’t whether there was controversy discussing identity or participation but rather that amongst the panelists there was only one young representative and that the back-and-forth discussion happened with an audience that lacked a strong numerical presence of youth. The real problem isn’t that there’s no dialogue on the matter of youth participation, engagement and empowerment, but rather that no one is speaking  to youths about youths. I could be told various things against this statement, that perhaps youth don’t care, or are not particularly interested in panel discussion between the walls of an Auditorium. To me, that’s an excuse; a pardon for not reaching out, blaming social trends and laziness for incompetent effort to ask, invite, or converse.

 

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Don’t you think it’s time that young people are not side-lined as a second priority, but are seen as a strategic priority in enabling a more prosperous society? As a youth leadership movement striving towards peace and fulfillment of humankind’s potential, and in the words of the former President of AIESEC International, Ana Saldarriaga, we relentlessly work on engaging and developing every single young person in the world; we partner with numerous business, civil society, government and media leaders to ensure collaboration and investment in young people becoming key players today and top leaders tomorrow.

We are youths who speak to youths about youths. And last year, we spoke to over 160,000 young people about what they care about and how would they like to participate in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and issues that matter to them for a better future.


The insights from the YouthSpeak Global Report can be found here.


The idea behind youth participation is for youth to have seats ready for decision-making and platforms ready to hear them out. The UN’s Not Too Young to Run campaign is based on the fact that if you’re old enough to vote, you’re old enough to run for office.

Grab a seat and speak, it’s no longer a game.

 

Women lighting up lives

Blogspot writer: Mariana Lainfiesta 


A partnership between the Barefoot College, the Government of India and UNDP’s Small Grants Programme enabled “solar engineers” to bring energy to their community.


What would you say if I told you that it doesn’t matter whether you can read or write to become a solar technician? Would you believe it’s possible?

Stella, an illiterate grandmother from a small village in Malawi, found hard to picture what lay ahead when she arrived at the Barefoot College. However, she was not alone in this. Iris, Carmen, Alnora and Ingrid, women from remote corners of Honduras were sceptic, they could not believe how they could learn to install, maintain and repair solar energy equipment in six months.

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“I never imagined that technical knowledge like this would be open to women who were illiterates, like us.” Stella reflected at the end of her training in Tilonia, in the state of Rajasthan. “But coming to Tilonia has given us this confidence that we can learn about new things and make our lives better.”

These women learned their skills through the solar energy programme at the Barefoot College in Tilonia, India. The institution is a pioneer in the field of teaching complex technological processes to illiterate students. Their six-month “solar engineers” study programme was made possible through a partnership between the Government of India and the Small Grants Programme (SGP), a programme supported by the Global Environment Fund (GEF) and UNDP.

The initiative has expanded to 18 countries. As a result, 71 women have been trained as solar engineers, who electrified 3,778 households in 52 villages. Women and girls have been benefited, as they are now able to bestow more time to education and income-generating activities.

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“We didn’t have any diplomas like students at a normal university,” says Alnora Casy. “In India, we learnt using a practical approach. We brought back a lot of knowledge to benefit our communities and, in a sense, to help them to escape from poverty.”

To ensure the sustainability of the project, they are taught how to train others in the maintenance of lamps and panels, and encouraged to set up electronics repairs shops, which will generate a regular income.

Not everything is as easy as it seems, though. The programme can be a formidable challenge for women. Their trainers, who mostly speak Hindi, must cut across linguistic and cultural barriers using gestures and signs.

“In the beginning, many women face problems, since it’s the first time they have left their children and village,” says Leela Devi, a teacher in the solar engineer department. “But we have to be like their sisters, and constantly remind them of the advantages of being here and learning solar engineering.”

Gertrude Damiano from Malawi  tests one of her solar lights.

Nevertheless, the desire to light up their communities and empower others has proven a unifying bond. In just six months, students have shown that they can transcend tremendous barriers and emerge as self-sustaining solar engineers and change-makers.

This partnership is changing women’s lives around the world; women who never believed it was possible for them to achieve something bigger and contribute to their communities in a different way.

Imagine what we could do if we all unite; we could build a better future for the developing countries and have a powerful impact in the world and in other people’s lives.

Partnerships for the goals?

Blogspot writer: Jakub Wolf


“In an age where community involvement and partnerships with civil society are increasingly being recognized as indispensable, there is clearly a growing potential for cooperative development and renewal worldwide.”  - Kofi Annan


These are the words of Kofi Annan, the seventh secretary general of the United Nations. The 2030 Agenda is packed, there are many ambitious goals to be achieved but before we can contribute we have to understand.

One of the most ambiguous goals is Sustainable Development Goal 17 “Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development”. It recognizes multi-stakeholder partnerships as tools for sharing knowledge and expertise to support the achievement of the goals in all territories of the world.

The objective of the goal is to connect people from all sectors, urging them to cooperate in planning how to achieve the 2030 agenda. In order to have maximum effect, these partnerships need to engage and be shared to all parts of the world, especially developing countries, to even attempt equalising standards all around the planet.

This goal is incredibly important as it binds the other goals together. It is divided into 5 different areas: finance, capacity building, systemic issues, technology and trade. Instead of further describing these, let me share a fact.

While official development assistance from developed countries increased by 66 percent between 2000 and 2014, humanitarian crises brought on by conflict or natural disasters continue to demand financial resources and aid.”  Sustainable Development Fund

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What can we do to contribute?

We have a huge advantage these days, more so than ever before. Nowadays, information can be passed along incredibly easily. We all have the capacity to think of innovative ideas and to contribute to the agenda. You never know who will create a concept that will change the world. It is our duty to inform ourselves, to exchange knowledge and together come up with plans for the future. It’s not that easy to say “I want to contribute to SDG #17” but just trying is already a huge step.

Promoting financial aid for developing countries can be incredibly helpful as well. One outcome of global partnerships, except for an exchange of knowledge, is financial aid for territories that can benefit from it hugely. By sharing the message, we can have a powerful impact in contributing to achieving this Sustainable Development Goal and creating a better future.

It was Cicero who said “We were born to unite with our fellow men, and to join in community with the human race.”

As an individual, having an impact is nearly impossible but if we unite, the possibilities are endless and our impact can be limitless.

Global: Workplace/Village!

While high school history books, graduation photos and old pictures from student organizations often seem to represent the world’s melting pot, that characterization may not quite hold true in the workplace. Diversity in the workplace encompasses a range of elements. Differences in race, color, gender, sexual orientation, creed, religion, national, ethnic or social origin. Diversity and inclusion affect not only the organizations’ people and operations internally but also their customers, suppliers, and other external stakeholders.

 

So the million dollar question would be!

Why should organizations and businesses care about DIVERSITY?

 

  • LIVING DIVERSITY

Businesses and organizations that bring together a diverse collection of skills and experiences are able to provide service to customers on a global basis, simply because people from diverse backgrounds bring individual talents and suggest ideas that are flexible in adapting to fluctuating markets and customer demands. A diverse workforce that feels comfortable communicating varying points of view provides a larger pool of ideas and experiences. The organization can draw from that pool to meet business strategy needs and the needs of customers more effectively, making them more agile and customer centric.

 

  • STRIVING FOR EXCELLENCE

Bringing different talents together working towards a common goal using different sets of skills that ignites their loyalty and increases their retention and productivity is always a smart move for businesses and organizations. Diversity can inspire all employees to perform to their highest ability. Strategies and goals can then be executed and reached; resulting in operative advantage and disruptive growth.

 

  • ENJOYING PARTICIPATION

Businesses are recognizing the need and importance of investing in diversity as part of their overall talent management practices, in fact diverse workplaces that brings together people from diverse backgrounds contributes to their people’s learning and growth.

 

Being exposed to new ideas, cultures and perspectives can help individuals to reach out intellectually and gain a clearer view of their surroundings and their place in the world. Spending time with culturally diverse co-workers can slowly break down the subconscious barriers encouraging employees to be more well-rounded members of society. This eventually results in the creation of a dynamic environment and an active and enthusiastic workplace.

 

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Aside from these 3 benefits of why businesses and organizations should capitalize on diversity in their workplaces, the payoffs in fact touch every area of the business – from increased creativity, to increased productivity, new attitudes, new language skills, global understanding, new processes, and new solutions to difficult problems. Not to mention greater agility, better market insight, stronger customer and community loyalty, innovation, and improved employee recruitment and retention. The list goes on and on!

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The world’s increasing globalization requires more interaction among people from diverse backgrounds. People no longer live and work in an insular environment; they are now part of a worldwide economy competing within a global framework. For this reason, profit and non-profit

organizations need to become more diversified to remain competitive and impactful. Maximizing and capitalizing on workplace diversity is an important strategic challenge for management. Diverse work teams can bring high value to organizations. Respecting individual differences will benefit the workplace by creating a competitive edge and increasing work productivity. A diverse workplace is a reflection of not only a changing marketplace but also a changing world.

Conversations, Leadership, and Youth

Blogpost Writer: Frans Astala


You know and I know, that the country is celebrating one hundred years of freedom one hundred years too soon.” – James Baldwin


These are the words James Baldwin wrote in a letter to his nephew more than half a century ago, being later published as part of his book The Fire Next Time. He was at the time, of course, referring to the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s. In the light of recent events and the racial tensions that have grown worse in the United States, the words have an eerie feel to them. If you just changed the amount of years passed would the quote still hold true?

Today is Martin Luther King Day, a day celebrated in honor one of the most iconic leaders of the 20th century.  A Baptist minister by profession, King ultimately became one of the best known frontmen of the Civil Rights movement demanding equal rights to everyone during a time when racial segregation was still the norm.

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However, the Civil Rights movement was more than only one man. How successful was it in achieving its goals? Recently the issues that gave birth to this movement have resurfaced in the public discourse, manifesting itself as a new public movement, Black Lives Matter.

In some ways you could look at the Black Lives Matter movement as a reincarnation of the Civil Rights movement. Both movements stand against the injustices of racism, both of them mobilize and unify, but also divide people. The bigger a movement grows, the more diverse it will become in thought, and the more opinions you have on what actions should be taken. Some say that today the issue has become politicised but most people agree that we should be able to talk about human rights without politics.

Even with all the ambiguity, one thing is for sure; the young generations want to see change and are ready to make it happen. The question is how to best channel all that will into something that will create impact. Everyone wants to voice their opinions but who is actually willing to sit down and listen? With the polarization we have today this is undoubtedly what the world needs.

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As a youth movement that wants to create a positive impact in the world, AIESEC is always looking for ways to address current issues through different initiatives. The YouthSpeak Forum, for example, is about providing a space for young people to discuss relevant issues in an inclusive way, bringing together many stakeholders, ranging from students to businesses, and trying to find solutions to challenging problems as one.

Times seem not to be favouring working together, but in the end change can only be brought through unity. Even if it’s hard sometimes, maybe for the sake of having a constructive conversation it is good to try to see beyond what you think a person represents, and actually listen to what they have to say. We can never know what mr. King would’ve said about what’s happening today, but his words are still relevant.


“I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.