Is Your Life's Blueprint?
October 26, 1967, six
months before he was assassinated, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
spoke to a group of students at Barratt Junior High School in Philadelphia.
want to ask you a question, and that is: What is your life's blueprint?
Whenever a building is constructed, you usually have an architect who
draws a blueprint, and that blueprint serves as the pattern, as the
guide, and a building is not well erected without a good, solid blueprint.
Now each of you is in the process of building the structure of your
lives, and the question is whether you have a proper, a solid and a
I want to suggest some of the things that should begin your life's blueprint.
Number one in your life's blueprint, should be a deep belief in your
own dignity, your worth and your own somebodiness. Don't allow anybody
to make you fell that you're nobody. Always feel that you count. Always
feel that you have worth, and always feel that your life has ultimate
Secondly, in your life's blueprint you must have as the basic principle
the determination to achieve excellence in your various fields of endeavor.
You're going to be deciding as the days, as the years unfold what you
will do in life what your life's work will be. Set out to do
And I say to you, my young friends, doors are opening to you--doors
of opportunities that were not open to your mothers and your fathers
and the great challenge facing you is to be ready to face these
doors as they open.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, the great essayist, said in a lecture in 1871,
"If a man can write a better book or preach a better sermon or
make a better mousetrap than his neighbor, even if he builds his house
in the woods, the world will make a beaten path to his door."
This hasn't always been true but it will become increasingly
true, and so I would urge you to study hard, to burn the midnight oil;
I would say to you, don't drop out of school. I understand all the sociological
reasons, but I urge you that in spite of your economic plight, in spite
of the situation that you're forced to live in stay in school.
And when you discover what you will be in your life, set out to do it
as if God Almighty called you at this particular moment in history to
do it. don't just set out to do a good job. Set out to do such a good
job that the living, the dead or the unborn couldn't do it any better.
If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo
painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music, sweep
streets like Leontyne Price sings before the Metropolitan Opera. Sweep
streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all
the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived
a great street sweeper who swept his job well. If you can't be a pine
at the top of the hill, be a shrub in the valley. Be be the best little
shrub on the side of the hill.
Be a bush if you can't be a tree. If you can't be a highway, just be
a trail. If you can't be a sun, be a star. For it isn't by size that
you win or fail. Be the best of whatever you are.
Back to: DrMartinLutherKingJr.com