This year’s celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King is especially timely as our country tries to heal from the recent events in Washington and all of the challenges that we faced in 2020.

While dedicating his life for racial equality and justice for all, Dr. King was also an optimist who, even in the darkest of times, saw a bright future for our country and all its people. In accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, Dr. King said this, “I accept this award today with an abiding faith in America and an audacious faith in the future of mankind. I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history.”

Martin Luther Mathews is also an optimist. As founder of Mathews-Dickey Boys’ and Girls’ Club in 1960, he shaped generations of young St. Louisans. Mr. Mathews, who will celebrate his 96th birthday next month, often speaks to the importance of “preparation, opportunity and possibility.” I heard these words again and again while volunteering and working at Mathews-Dickey beginning in 1989. When children are prepared and receive equal opportunities, their possibilities are endless; their futures are bright; and we all benefit. Mr. Mathews’ ideals helped spark the idea for City Academy. More than two decades and hundreds of success stories later, we can be proud of what we’ve accomplished, but we must not be satisfied. We must remain steadfast in our ongoing pursuit of educational excellence and racial equality.

City Academy attracts optimists. Not the kind who naively hope for the best, but those who are willing to be bold and shape the future. We all do this in our own way, as students, alumni, parents, educators, administrators, trustees, supporters, friends. Together with different backgrounds, perspectives, stories and approaches, we shape our school and transform our community.

This weekend, as we honor Dr. King and his legacy, we can also share his hope for our country and community. We can’t ignore our current and ongoing struggles, but we can imagine the exciting and endless possibilities for our children. For me, these feelings are bolstered as I walk our halls, join a Zoom class or have lunch with a group of alumni college freshmen. I am energized and inspired by our young people – their thoughtfulness, their determination and their optimism!

There is much hope for our future.

Don Danforth III
President & Co-Founder

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