Everybody Can Be Great
By City Year
Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve.
You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know about Plato
and Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know Einstein’s theory of relativity to serve. You don’t have to
know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a
soul generated by love.
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“The Drum Major Instinct”
Delivered at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta, Georgia, February 4, 1968
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s idea of greatness is neither elitist nor exclusive. Yet, at the same time,
everyone is not automatically great. Rather, each person has the potential to achieve greatness because
every person has something to offer and to contribute through service.
Greatness is available to all through unselfish action fueled by unselfish motivation. Dr. King sees the inherent dignity that every human being can achieve through service, a common meeting ground that requires no worldly credentials to enter. Service is a great equalizer that eliminates social division. If we truly believe that everyone can be great, then we must always remember to put this ideal into practice by assuming, finding, and appealing
to the greatness in everyone. Everyone has something to offer, something to contribute, even if at first they
do not know it, or we cannot see it.
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