Knowledge is power: Sitting down with the Cuyahoga Community College president

“I don’t try to teach our students what to think, we want to engage them in the process of how to think, how to engage, how to inquire.”
Published: Jan. 14, 2023 at 9:01 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - During a sermon in 1959, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Science gives man knowledge, which is power,” and that is the theme of the 19 News commemorative MLK special.

The goal of many educators across Northeast Ohio, is to make sure future generations realize the meaning behind Dr. King’s words.

19 News anchor Shannon Smith sat down for a Q&A with Dr. Michael Baston, the president of Cuyahoga Community College, about why knowledge is power.

Some sentences in the below Q&A have been edited for brevity.

Shannon: “When you hear knowledge is power, what does that mean to you?”

Dr. Michael Baston: “The idea that if you know better you can do better, that’s what it means to have knowledge as a powerful source of inspiration motivation and ultimately perspiration.”

Shannon: “How does that theme play into your day to day role as the president at Tri-C?”

Dr. Baston: “As president of Cuyahoga Community College, for me, making sure that every student has the information and the opportunity to think and grow and learn and change and develop. It’s beneficial not only for them as individuals, but for the vitality of our community.”

Shannon: “When you hear Dr. Martin Luther King and every year we celebrate him, we try to all throughout the year -- what does it mean to you, his legacy?”

Dr. Baston: “Well, I am his legacy. I’m the embodiment of his vision his dream his hope that one day we would have folks that get that broad education that they could actually build good relationships across racial lines, that we could actually have a beloved community where folks are valued and appreciated and cared for. So, I’m the beneficiary of the hard-fought struggles. I was able to go to law school in part because of the work of Martin Luther King and other civil rights folks who said we want to make sure that there’s education for all. We want to make sure that you don’t just get an education to make a living, but that you get an education to change the world and to make a life. So I am that dream, I am that vision and I believe that and try to share that with succeeding generations as well.”

Dr. Baston: “I don’t find it hard to believe in the power of the possible. I find it hard sometimes to help others have that same feeling that same sense, but I’m committed and everything that I do to ensure that people can see that brighter tomorrow for themselves and that they can find within themselves the joy, the resilience, the ability to cast a vision of their future and to passionately pursue it.”

Shannon: “Yeah, we know Dr. King was super passionate. He thought of everything himself he knew that it was not about him. It wasn’t about those fighting alongside him, it was about the future. For you, what carries you through every day, every year to be able to make sure that people see the same vision or like you said have that same thought? Do you find that challenging to instill that in people nowadays?”

Dr. Baston: “Oh, I think what the real challenge today is to help people understand the power of thoughts, the power of ideas. I think today we are continually becoming a community that so polarized and not really engaging in that civil discourse that allows you to actually expand your thoughts to grow and to develop and to mature. So I don’t try to teach our students what to think, we want to engage them in the process of how to think, how to engage, how to inquire. If we challenge one another to be better to live better to operate in a more effective way to move our humanity forward, if we do that, we actually create a stronger more vibrant world. That is really the heart of the mission of Dr. King -- that fierce urgency of now says that we cannot wait for someone else to rescue humanity that we ourselves have to be engaged in the struggle to build bridges of hope together.”

Dr. Baston has served as president of Cuyahoga Community College since July 2022.