Dinner With Martin Luther King

Question: If you could sit down with anybody, who would it be?

Gerald Chertavian: Yeah. I would like to sit down with Martin Luther King and try to understand the thoughts he was having at that point around grassroots movements around civil rights, kind of seeing how he thought about galvanizing people, how he saw that movement. So I think to sit down to see how someone thought about and helped to lead a movement, because of -- and not that I would try to emulate that; I think our students will be the people to lead Year Up to the future; our graduates are the ones who are my heroes and the ones who will run this organization. I happen to be a steward for a very short period of time. But I'm not that person.

But if I can understand how do these movements form, because what we do is about economic and social justice. It is the next step in civil rights. Having an opportunity nation is deeply important to maintain your democracy and your civilized society in this country. So when you think about the continuation of civil rights, it is about opportunity; it is about economic justice; it is about social justice. And Year Up is one element of that. We kneel on the shoulders of those before us, who risked much, much more to accomplish what they accomplished. And so I'd be deeply interested to learn from them, to sit down and understand what they saw -- how they saw this go forward -- and perhaps what we could learn to help this next step in civil rights move forward in this country.

 Recorded on: October 29, 2009

If Gerald Chertavian could do dinner with anybody, it would be the great civil rights activist, whose insights into social justice and grassroots organization have proven timeless.

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