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Celebrating the Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

Dear Northwestern community members,

In April 1958, two years after leading a Montgomery bus boycott that stirred the conscience of a nation, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. visited Northwestern University to deliver two addresses on consecutive days in the Tech auditorium. Overflow crowds listened intently as Dr. King diagnosed a “crisis in human relations” before elucidating a vision of a society in which all enjoyed equal dignity, freedom and opportunity.

In the coming days, our University community will celebrate the legacy of this civil rights pioneer, contemplating his historic achievements and his enduring call for us to raise our sights ever higher. As this year’s celebrations fall at the midpoint of 150 Years of Women at Northwestern, this is a fitting moment to ensure that we extend Dr. King’s vision to encompass every member of society regardless of background, creed, gender or personal identity.

One of the great contemporary catalysts in this effort is Tarana Burke, our keynote speaker for this year’s observances. Ms. Burke, who will speak on our Chicago and Evanston campuses on Jan. 27, is the founder of the ‘me too’ movement, having dedicated herself over the past 25 years to helping women of color to overcome sexual abuse and assault. She has set the stage for society-wide examinations of injustice and has been a powerful voice for the unheard. 

This year’s Martin Luther King Day, observed on Jan. 20, is a University holiday. To commemorate the day, we hope you will attend Alpha Phi Alpha’s candlelight vigil at 4 p.m. in the Alice Millar Chapel in Evanston. Read more about the vigil and the Burke event, and get details about a number of other MLK commemoration activities.

In light of Ms. Burke’s work, we want to make you aware of services that are available for those affected by sexual violence, including CARE’s resources for survivors as well as our Office of Equity and CAPS team.

As Dr. King said, “The end is reconciliation; the end is redemption; the end is the creation of the beloved community.” May we, this university comprised of remarkable individuals, seek these ends in all our own work and be a tangible demonstration of them for all the world.