By Makenzie Jones
Dr. Telika McCoy, a Winston-Salem native who is a pastor and activist, presented a speech in Dinwiddie Chapel at William Peace University on Jan. 21 that gave an overview of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and facts about American history that can be difficult to discuss.
McCoy attended Shaw University, where she majored in sociology and graduated with honors. After completing her undergraduate studies, she earned her Master of Divinity degree from Shaw University Divinity School. She also earned her Ph.D. in human services from Capella University in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
After college, McCoy worked at UNC-Chapel Hill to teach HIV/AIDS and pregnancy prevention to at-risk youth. She later became a minister of the Baptist Church and is teaching at the Apex School of Theology. Throughout her career, McCoy has become an author to two books, That Child! and That Day!.
“We all came here on different ships, but we’re all on the same boat,” said McCoy.
McCoy’s speech presented the passion King had with society and the hardships he witnessed or went through to accomplish his dream. King is most well known as a social activist because he saw a social problem, developed a dream, and eventually by taking action, he changed the United States, as well as the world.
After McCoy gave an overview of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life, she gave the audience four ways to challenge themselves to help improve society. Those challenges are: love yourself, be intentional, continually educate yourself, and take action.
In the presentation, McCoy talked about when loving yourself, you need to be honest with yourself. Don’t let others define you or your potential you have in life.
To be intentional, looking now, how do you support diverse groups? Or even question yourself what kind of relationship do your kids/grandkids have with diversity? McCoy gave the audience those questions to think about when trying to recall how they interact with society.
When thinking about your child or grandchild, try to recall the last time they had a sleepover and who came over for it. Not just for your children, but for yourself; try to recall who you go to lunch with.
“If everything you teach is uncomfortable, that’s a problem,” said McCoy, “With this, you are not preparing your students to face a real-world problem that is really diverse.”
By continuously educating yourself, McCoy said that you began to realize where you feel comfortable discussing and learning about difficult topics. You also learn what materials or courses are uncomfortable for someone to teach. She mentioned when you start talking about racism, sexism, and all the other “isms,” you put yourself out there. Even if it offends the audience, most will appreciate the truth.
McCoy’s last challenge requires taking action. She mentioned trying to see what acts of justice the audience can produce in the world or even how they can make the human experience a better experience. Taking action doesn’t have to begin with a major event; you can start with your family. McCoy said that when you hear people in your family say negative things about “others,” don’t just sit there, just SAY SOMETHING!
“With using the challenges provided from Dr. McCoy, I plan on being active on campus and taking on leadership opportunities,” said Jacari Riggins, WPU junior and women’s soccer player.
Riggins not only wants to have a voice on the field but on campus as well.
“Enjoy the one you have today, improve the one to come,” McCoy read from her book That Day!.