Reflections on Martin Luther King, Jr., Day
January 15 is the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In the United States, we have been marking the occasion with a federally-recognized holiday since 1986, which this year falls on Monday, Jan. 16.
Dr. King was a prominent leader of the civil rights movement in the U.S. from 1955 until he was assassinated in 1968. There is much scholarship and there are many biographies of Dr. King. (Our own emeritus professor Michael Honey edited “All Labor Has Dignity,” King’s speeches on labor rights and economic justice.)
For me, this time of year is a time to reflect on how King’s uplifting messages of equality and peace are resonating in our UW Tacoma community.
Even in my short time serving as your Chancellor, I have seen many signs of the work we do every day to live out King’s dream. We expanded the Center for Equity & Inclusion and opened a new Learning Commons. We published a new strategic plan that keeps access at the center of our mission. Guided by UW’s Diversity Blueprint, we are deepening our efforts to be inclusive, equitable, diverse and accountable. We achieved recognition as an institution serving the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, and received funding to support that! work.
These and many other activities speak to our ongoing efforts to realize the beloved community of which King spoke so eloquently. Much like the society we live in, we have accomplished much, but we still have a long way to go.
This year, on MLK Day, we will take a moment with our community to celebrate our progress, and remind ourselves of the work yet to be done, during the MLK Jr. Unity Breakfast, back after a pandemic hiatus. The event, which I understand is sold out, is being organized and hosted by UW Tacoma’s Black Student Union, and will include the presentation of Dream Awards recognizing work to promote equity, justice and civil rights.
King said, “Our goal is to create a beloved community, and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives.” That change is what we seek to achieve here at UW Tacoma, and is part of our vision of growing to enroll 10,000 students. For, as peace activist and teacher Thich Nhat Han said, “The larger your beloved community, the more you can accomplish in the world.”
I am so proud to be a part of this community, and I wish you all the best this holiday weekend.