Martin Luther King, My Dad and How I Was Brought Up

JohnOConnor Uncategorized 4 Comments


November 6, 2008 I had the opportunity to give a keynote talk to one of my important volunteer groups called the Business Advisory Council. That day the original keynote speaker from NC State University was called away on some racially charged graffiti and anger associated with those issues on campus. Remember the election happened two days before.  

So the keynote to this great group called me. 

I just wanted to share this article with you. It’s part of what formed my dad’s opinion on people. 

We were brought up by my parents to see people’s unique qualities not their differences. 

In this talk I also added two other stories – my brother’s Canada Man story and my son’s reaction of What are white and black people? I will explain these stories in another blog entry. The bottom line is we were brought up not to label people by race but the content of their character, their service and their humanity. We need that lesson today. 

But let me focus on my dad’s experience with history in the 50’s when there were many different impression of MLK. 

This is the background foundation of what I read in this talk:

First Rites – 

It’s a real glimpse into what formed my dad and how we viewed others.

Intv.farris.mlk.cnn.88x49  Images

Comments 4

  1. I think John’s values and this story of leaderhip and father power has a lot of resonance with me. This has so much truth and history. I really believe in labeling others with positives. Again, there is a lot here. Important stuff.

  2. Thank you for the time, thought, and energy you put into this blog. You have written some excellent articles that exemplify and explain the reality of today’s job market. You also sparked a number of thoughts for me and I hope you do not mind, but I am going to expand on one the them:
    I agree with your Dad; people who have good character do not judge others based on their differences. They see people as individuals and embrace their distinct qualities as who they are, nothing more and nothing less.
    In the business world, however, hiring executives wear filters that help them determine if a candidate is a potential “fit” for a position. Good, bad, or indifferent, every organization has a culture and few employers want to hire a candidate that will not fit in.
    Consequently, I’ve found myself in the hot seat being asked questions that were clearly aimed at sizing me up, so to speak. It may be me, but it seems as if employers are going to much greater lengths to hire candidates that are a near “perfect fit” rather than the 70-80% match that has been the norm in the past.
    Also like your father, I believe in identifying and working with the positives in people. That practice has been the guiding principle when conducting my own interviews as a hiring executive. Based on that which I’ve been reading as well as my own experiences interviewing, it seems reasonable to assume that the rules have changed.
    How does a candidate go about preparing for the cultural fit aspect of an interview?

  3. Thank you Peter for adding to this post and your insights. I can tell you really see in others what is important – their potential, their character and what they can do. Those optics bode well for you. As to the cultural fit question I will spend more time to think about it. But much of the cultural fit comes from reading about the company, finding out what they say but also about the tone set by the leadership. In every organization the leaders set the tone and if you look at the failures of many companies today it started with a cracks in character and leadership. Associates of mine like David Snyder suggest that companies ask questions and find out if their potential employees have a “track record of integrity” and a “history of honesty” and that now seems to be en vogue. That may be one of the best takeaways from high unemployment. You have inspired me to add more to this in further posts.

  4. I look forward to reading your future posts John. Thank you for acknowledging me and for responding to my question. I want to believe that integrity will always shine through in the end. I look forward to your future posts. You have inspired me too!

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