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Speaker talks about the leadership style of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Thomas Segar: 'We look at what he did ... but we don't always look at how he did what he did'

January 15, 2011|By HEATHER KEELS | heather.keels@herald-mail.com
  • Thomas Segar, assistant vice president of student affairs at Shepherd University, spoke Saturday about the leadership style of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at The Contemporary School of the Arts & Gallery Inc.
By Kevin G. Gilbert, Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — It was not just what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. helped achieve for civil rights in this country, but how he went about doing it, that have made a mark on history, a local scholar said Saturday at an event in downtown Hagerstown.

"The one thing we miss out on a lot is his contribution to leadership," Thomas Segar, assistant vice president of student affairs at Shepherd University, said during a talk about King at The Contemporary School of the Arts & Gallery Inc. at 4 W. Franklin St.

"We look at what he did, the impact of what he did, but we don't always look at how he did what he did," Segar said. "We don't look at how what he did is situated into a history of civil rights movements and how he changed that process up until that point."

Segar, a Hagerstown resident, said he has spent a lot of time studying the notion of leadership as it relates to college students and is writing a dissertation on the subject.

"What I've learned in looking at Dr. King and looking at the way in which he led, is that he did something that is very different," Segar said. "In fact, there are leadership development models that are used in academia ... that are influenced by his legacy."

Segar said a model was created in the 1990s for teaching students how to make positive social change, and that model was based on the characteristics of Gandhi, Malcolm X and King.

For example, King never allowed his methods to get in the way of his message, Segar said.

He was also consistent, Segar said.

"The way he walked, the way he showed up, the way he got dressed in the morning, the way he laid his head down at night — his message of change, his message of love was powerful, and it was in everything he did, and leaders who are effective do just that," he said.

Saturday's event also included a piano performance by Joshua St. Hill, 9, of Hagerstown.

Joshua, a student of piano teacher Aaron Worthy, said he had been playing piano for about two years.

Joshua said he enjoyed the event and had learned a lot about King.

"He was a very good speaker and he could write a lot, and also he had a very good education," Joshua said.

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