Change does not come on its own nor is there hope that it will come at all if not embraced by humanitarians with a shared cause.
One such visionary who comes to mind is named King.
But no, not that one.
Civil Rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. truly was the face of change, the voice of hope and the heart of humanity in an era that needed such an inspirational leader. Truly, he has earned his rightful place in American history through a personal martyrdom that launched the rebirth of a nation.
But in Cleveland, we know of another King.
She is RaSharon King, a graduate of Cleveland High School and the University of Tennessee at Knoxville who is now pursuing a doctorate while being gainfully employed at TVA. That’s just her day job.
RaSharon, whose son is following in her footsteps as a student at UT, spends plenty of time in Cleveland doing the good work that good people do.
Currently, she serves as first vice president of the NAACP of Bradley County. She is an organizer for Gospel Explosion and president of the Sigma Gamma Rho chapter in Chattanooga.
By name nor blood is she any kin to the legendary MLK, but she followed his life story through her studies at Cleveland High. She explained her interest in a recent interview with our newspaper that led to a front-page feature written by Senior Staff Writer Joyanna Love.
The insightful narrative was published in our Feb. 18 edition and served as part of our continuing coverage of Black History Month, and of the people, organizations and causes in our community that are keeping this annual salute alive.
“As a young person I was always fascinated with Dr. [Martin Luther] King, and I wanted to leave an impact like he did,” she told our reporter.
So RaSharon started with young people. To inspire change, one must inspire those who can make it.
“Most of the things I do are youth-related because that is where I feel you can make a difference,” she explained. “That is where my life changed because I was going down a path of trouble. But it was people who saw something in me who helped change me around.”
Some might see it as a mathematical equation of the heart: People + Cause = Change.
That’s why organizations like the NAACP of Bradley County are viewed from a distance — both short and long — as being a voice for those who sometimes go unseen and others who too often are never heard.
Groups of people like the NAACP bring promise to any community, and to our community. People like RaSharon King bring a message of hope and opportunity to all who will listen.
Even as we observe Black History Month, and especially as we observe its role in the America of our past, present and future, it is important to understand the NAACP of Bradley County is not just about black people or their influence on white people or red people, brown or yellow. The NAACP of Bradley County is about all people. Its eyes are focused on all needs. Its heart is open to the masses.
The NAACP does for our community what CHS Guidance Counselor Alma Dotson did for RaSharon King in her youth.
Thanks to both, eyes now focus on opportunity.
Thanks to both, ears now hear the beats of a different drum.
Thanks to both, hearts are now warmed to the reality that people are people no matter where nor how far it is they dwell.
Thanks to both, minds are now open to all the beauties of life, some unseen and others as close as the reflection in the mirror.
Thanks to both, difference is forever a strength and never a weakness.
Thanks to both, life is understood to be exactly what it is ... the natural bridge of humanity.
In today’s world, one does not have to wear the name King to make a difference among people. One needs only the will to find the way.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did it in the ’60s.
RaSharon King is doing it now.
And as others follow, we will become a bigger, and better, world of kings.