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Honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Dear members of the Northwestern community,

As Northwestern prepares to observe MLK Dream Week 2021, we would like to share words that Martin Luther King Jr. offered in his memoir “Stride Toward Freedom:”

The mere fact that we live in the United States means that we are caught in a network of inescapable mutuality. Therefore, no American can afford to be apathetic about the problem of racial justice. It is a problem that meets every man at his front door. The racial problem will be solved in America to the degree that every American considers himself personally confronted with it. Whether one lives in the heart of the Deep South or on the periphery of the North, the problem of injustice is his problem; it is his problem because it is America’s problem.

For six decades, those words have pierced the nation’s conscience. They do so with fresh power now, in a season that has revealed to us that we have so much more to do to realize his vision. 

We want to thank the University’s Dream Week Commemoration Committee members for their hard work in helping this University community play our role in this national saga with dedication, compassion, imagination and energy. 

Please join us on Wednesday, Jan. 13, at 4 p.m. CST for the MLK Dream Week keynote address by Mariame Kaba. An alumna of Northwestern, Ms. Kaba is a nationally renowned educator, organizer, author, prison industrial complex abolitionist and advocate for racial, gender and transformative justice. Her online address is free and open to the public and can be accessed here.

We will observe our annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Candlelight Vigil run by the Brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated Alpha Mu Chapter at 3 p.m. CST on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Monday, Jan. 18 (a University holiday). It, too, will be online, public and free, and will be available at the same link above. Hill Harper, a dedicated actor, author, activist, philanthropist and brother Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated, will be our featured guest.

In the coming weeks, months and years, we will continue to honor Dr. King’s legacy by working to fulfill our own University-wide commitments. And we will be ever-mindful of his words, also from “Stride Toward Freedom,” that “true peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.”

May we seek, with humility and honesty and grace, to live this out in our own community more fully each day.