A statement from Dr. Merodie A. Hancock, president, Thomas Edison State University
Dignity, compassion, respect, justice, equity, humility, intelligence and strength – all characteristics embodied by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – all resonate today more than ever.
On Aug. 28, 1963, Dr. King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to an audience of resolute but hopeful civil rights marchers. That is a far cry from the siege we experienced on our U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
As angry and disheartened as I am over current events, I refuse to let go of the hope for a better nation. In the nearly 60 years since Dr. King shared his dream, his words still ring true – even as an equitable and just world remains out of reach for so many across our country.
On Monday, Jan. 18, as we honor Dr. King’s personal sacrifice, peaceful activism and enduring legacy, I hope we are reminded that his efforts cannot be in vain. We should be reminded of Dr. King’s belief that, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?’” We must continue to hold up our own contributions to social justice, inclusion and racial equity against his example. This is more than a social movement. How we engage in civil yet probing discourse to engender this change will determine our legacies and define our generation.
To quote my fellow Scripps College alumna, Gabby Giffords, “there is no magic recovery in store for us as a nation.”
On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and every day, the responsibility rests on us to take up his mantle. The journey is challenging, but Dr. King taught us that unity is only achievable with tenacity and purposeful steps toward justice, equity and peace. He knew the fight for democracy was not over in 1963, and we, unfortunately, know it is still not over in 2021.
At TESU, we are especially proud of our employees, students and alumni who emulate Dr. King’s commitment to justice, who champion his dream of a better nation, who lift up their communities and who hold themselves to his challenge of doing for others.