Fifty years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. was to be Harvard’s Class Day speaker. The civil rights leader was assassinated only weeks before he was set to address the Class of 1968, but his enduring legacy includes “a call to action that still rings out today,” said President Drew Faust during Tuesday’s Baccalaureate service at Memorial Church.
“[King] said: ‘Transform the jangling discords of our world into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. Transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of peace.’”
Transformation was a theme Faust returned to repeatedly during her final Baccalaureate Address, 10 years after she told the Class of 2008 to put their deepest passion before the safer course of action, or, as her “parking-space theory of life” holds: “Go to where you want to be. You can always circle back to where you have to be.”
The Class of 2018 inspired her to consider amending and expanding her theory, Faust told students on Tuesday, based on the spirit of inquiry they exhibited during their time at Harvard.
Their questions included “How can I help?” and “What is necessary at this time and place in the world?”
“You have developed a more expansive goal — a broadening sense of ‘where you want to be,’” said Faust, adding: “The transformation promised at your convocation turned out to be less about you and more about everything around you.”