Chief Diversity Officer David Gomes reflects on the life of Dr. King
In his 2010 Presidential Proclamation honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy, Barack Obama stated:
“Dr. King challenged our nation to recognize that our individual liberties rely upon our shared equality. In communities marred by divisions and injustice, the movement he built from the ground up forced open doors to negotiation. The strength of his leadership was matched only by the power of his words, which still call on us to perfect those sacred ideals enshrined in our founding documents.”
The movement Dr. King built not only led to strides in equality for African-Americans not seen since the passage of the Reconstruction Amendments (13th, 14th & 15th) to the Constitution, but also forged a shared community regardless of race with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
President Obama reminds us that, “though we have made great strides since the turbulent era of Dr. King’s movement, his work and our journey remain unfinished.” Most recently, our nation has seen the pendulum swing backwards. We have witnessed unsavory and dangerous elements emerge from the shadows in the form of white supremacists, conspiracy theorists, anti-Semites, anti-LGBTQIA, anti-Muslim, and anti-immigrant factions, which have caused an erosion of the fabric of our democracy in direct contradiction to Dr. King’s message and movement of hope, peace and tolerance.
In his 2010 Presidential Proclamation, President Obama further stated: “Recognizing that our country has yet to reach Dr. King’s promised land is not an admission of defeat, but a call to action. In times of strife, many of us have faced limited opportunities, but our capacity to support each other remains limitless.” As a reminder, and in the spirit of Dr. King, we, as an institution, must continue to honor the principles of equity, dignity, and civility in the furtherance of our goal of creating a socially just, welcoming, and inclusive home for our students, faculty and staff to live, learn, and thrive.
On this occasion of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, let us take inspiration from his exemplary life and President Obama’s words and legacies as we strive to create and maintain a campus community actively committed to justice and equity. Please plan to join us virtually in celebration of Dr. King’s life at the 19th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast, scheduled for (Friday) January 29, 2021 at 9:00 A.M. Register for the event here.
*A prior version of this letter omitted the reference and citation to the 2010 speech by President Barack Obama, and has been corrected.