Into ActionOct 04, 2023
True game-changers, real difference makers, and those who help create meaningful, lasting impact, exhibit the proper behavior to transfer powerful words into ideas and then turn those ideas… into action.
Since 1855, Berea College has done just that. By staying true to their mission, taking a courageous stand, and not giving in to societal pressures, this historic school in tiny Berea, KY has moved from words, to ideas, to behaviors, to action, while becoming the first interracial and co-educational college in the Southern United States.
I had the incredible privilege to be invited to this ground-breaking college recently to be the guest speaker for their convocation. Prior to my presentation, as I explored the campus, talking to faculty and students, and reading each historical plaque, it became clear to me my assignment was much more than being a presenter.
I quickly realized I was there to understand, to be educated, and to learn. As I walked the campus, moved by all the history of this school, my focus immediately shifted from preparing to present to preparing to learn. My education included reading every historical and commemorative plaque I could find. And what I found on those engravings were powerful words and bold ideas that were turned into game-changing actions.
As leaders, coaches, teachers, presenters, and life-long learners, when we’re on a task, sharing our craft, presenting to others, what might be the deeper assignment and what can we learn from those experiences?
My task started as a simple convocation speech at a small college near the Appalachian Mountains, but it quickly shifted to become a much more significant and lofty assignment. With my presentation pride aside and my student cap on, below are some of the words, ideas, behaviors, and actions that I took in - and now report back to you all - from this most informative, educational, and memorable field trip:
Berea College was founded by ardent abolitionists and radical reformers.
Berea College’s culture and programs are shaped so that the students and staff alike can work toward both personal goals and a vision of the world shaped by values, such as the power of love over hate, human dignity and equality and peace with justice.
The Berea experience nurtures intellectual, physical, aesthetic, emotional and spiritual potentials, and with those the power to make meaningful commitments and translate them…into action.
To achieve this purpose, Berea College commits itself to provide an educational opportunity primarily for students from the Appalachia, black and white, who have great promise and limited economic resources.
To provide an education of high quality with a liberal arts foundation and outlook.
To stimulate understanding of the Christian faith and its many expressions and to emphasize the Christian ethic and the motive of service to others.
To assert the kinship of all people and to provide interracial education with a particular emphasis on understanding and equality among blacks and whites.
To create a democratic community dedicated to education and equality for women and men.
Here’s to the words above in bold, and to the women and men who transfer bold words into ideas, and shift those ideas into behaviors, and finally, put it all… into action.
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