The Drum Major Instinct

Hell, my name is Sydni Williams and I am executing my internship with CDF Freedom Schools at Detroit Service Learning Academy. As a part of my first weeks returning to the program we were asked to read Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech “The Drum Major Instinct” and it caused me self reflect. In this self reflection I realized that this is more than just an internship, but it is my chance to make my mark on the world. It is my chance to allow my drum major instinct to submerge. It is a chance for me to allow my purpose to thrive.


One of my biggest challenges right now is my own drum major instinct. Nowadays, social media makes it hard for one to be content with their life’s accomplishments. We often find ourselves obsessing over the accomplishments of others- or better yet, the material possessions of others and in this process we lose sight of who we are and whose we are.

I am a child of God. Being a child of the king is enough. Serving the lord should make me content, yet I constantly find myself doubting myself and wishing that I could be more. Be the best. Go to the best school. Have the best grades. Drive the best car. MLK made me realize that this is because of my drum major instinct. But the truth is, I’ve been focused on the wrong thing all along. One’s success isn’t measured by the number of Range Rovers they can afford or the amount of money they have saved up, but the number of lives they touched. I want to dedicate my life to impacting the lives of others, making sure that wherever I go I leave the touch of Christ behind.

That is why I am a part of Freedom Schools. Freedom Schools gives me the opportunity to make my mark, but not in a way that appeals to my drum major instinct. There’s little recognition by community, very few awards on behalf of the government or my school, and the paycheck isn’t huge, but what is huge is the impact. With Freedom Schools I know that I will impact 60 scholars in some way. Whether it be with a hug in the morning or a deep talk about life, Freedom Schools is a place where I can let go of my drum major instinct. The drum major instinct fails to exist and we all agree to coexist in a space where being is enough. My drum major instinct is hidden, yet I am enough. We are enough.

So I’ve realized where I want to be. I want to be in a place in my life where my willingness to serve God and my diligence outweigh my drum major instinct. That is what my internship at CDF Freedom Schools is all about.



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