First of All, Servants of All, We Shall Transcend All. – Being Great on #MLKDay

This guest post is written by Tiran Burrell, an Eastern Michigan University alum and member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. serving as a Team Leader with City Year Detroit on the United Way Team at Osborn High School.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is among one of the greatest people who has ever lived.  His undying optimism in troubling times as well as his drive to ensure civil rights for all Americans has truly become an inspiration that has been felt throughout the world. He has imprinted in the minds of many that indeed, dreams do come true. Most importantly, he has done a tremendous amount of service to humanity.

He is truly a member of Alpha Phi Alpha that lived up to our motto:

First of All, Servants of All, We Shall Transcend All.

As a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., like Dr. Kingservice is a large factor in my life. Dr. King said, “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.” This quote is something that I truly believe and connects to the altruism associated with “Servants of All.” As a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., I have served in various places such as: shelters, urban gardens, youth aid programs, fundraisers and even city clean-up initiatives.

Serving others, especially in the city where I was raised, is extremely important to me because I want to see my city grow. I joined City Year Detroit in hopes to see this happen – starting with education, because it is the foundation from where it all happens. I see students much like myself not granted the opportunities I was and it inspires me to change it.  At some point, it stops being about yourself and it starts being about how to “make better happen” for everybody. I am glad I joined City Year to be a part of that change in Detroit, something that another member of Alpha Phi Alpha and former mayor of Detroit, Dennis Archer, sought after when he assisted in starting the City Year site here.

On June 23, 1963, months before the March on Washington, Dr. Martin Luther King first gave his unforgettable “I Have a Dream” speech here on the streets of Detroit. I am delighted to serve in Detroit on MLK Day because there are so many ties that bind us together.

As a fraternity brother who came from the place where Dr. King first shared his dream, it is a great honor to be a part of this day. I love the fact that Detroit Public Schools alumni like myself have volunteered to serve on this day at various schools around the city, including Osborn, which is the school I serve at. This is proof that others have started living, according to King, as they work on the concerns of all humanity. This day is greater than me and why I serve. It is improving the conditions that we live in to make them better so next generations can “Transcend All” that we have done.

It is with the utmost pride that I partake in this service day for Detroit, Dr. King, Alpha Phi Alpha, and City Year.

Dr. King said, “Everybody can be great, because anyone can serve.” Greatness does not always lie in your accomplishments, but how you can make the world a better place. As servants, it is our duty to do great things.



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