Honoring Dr. King's Legacy

On Monday, the nation will mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The day not only honors the life and legacy of Dr. King, but it also is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service. It is “a day on, not a day off,” when we are called to dedicate time to making our communities stronger and to reflecting on the work that still needs to be done for racial equality.

It is, perhaps, more important than ever that we answer that call by standing together in solidarity and the continued pursuit of justice.

I invite you to join me Monday, Jan. 18, at 1 p.m. for a virtual commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, hosted by the Office of Student Affairs and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, in partnership with the Undergraduate Student Senate and the Human Rights Council of Washington County.

Over the past year, we have been appalled at the police killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd — and far too many others.

We have seen a measurable increase in racist, nationalist and anti-Semetic rhetoric and actions in our country.

We continue to fight a global pandemic that disproportionately affects communities of color, both medically and economically.

And, last week, we watched with shock and horror as armed insurrectionists invaded the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., in an effort to disrupt our democratic processes and block the election of President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris — the first African American, first Asian American, and first woman elected to the office.

For many, especially our communities of color, the events of last week were especially painful to watch, as the men and women attacking our country were met with such a markedly different response than have been protestors calling for racial equity.

In the wake of all of this, we struggle with feelings of fear, disillusionment, shock, sadness, anger. And we look ahead to Inauguration Day on Wednesday with both hope — in the confirmation that our democracy can and will survive, and improve, after these attacks — and with apprehension that further violence may occur.

At Pacific University, we reject violence in all its forms. As Dr. King said in his 1964 acceptance of the Nobel Prize, “Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time.”

We are dedicated to civic engagement, to global justice, to equity, diversity and inclusion. These words are embedded in our mission, but they are more — they are the aspirations to which we hold ourselves accountable. Yes, we sometimes fail. Yes, we have more work to do. But we are committed to growing, together, a little more every day.

I challenge you to do the same.

These are incredibly difficult times, and if you are struggling, please do not hesitate to reach out for help.

The Student Counseling Center offers individual and group sessions, as well as seminars, workshops and a 24/7 crisis line (503-352-2999). The SCC also will continue hosting its weekly BIPOC Drop-In sessions, starting Wednesday, Jan. 20 at noon.

The Student Multicultural Center offers a place for education, advocacy and connection.

If you are interested in pastoral care, you may contact alumnus and retired UCC pastor and teacher Frank Baldwin ’67 at 925-788-6535.

But if you have the capacity, I also encourage you to continue to take action.

  • Listen to and learn from someone else’s experience. 
  • Read a book that helps you better understand another point of view. 
  • Resist the temptation to “give up” on the political process and instead lean into our civic community. The Center for Civic Engagement will host “What Just Happened? Inauguration Edition,” at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 21. Pacific’s politics and government faculty will provide a framework for recent events and there will be an opportunity for discussion.
  • Find an opportunity to volunteer in our community. AmeriCorps has a great collection of options with COVID-19 precautions in place.

In the words of Dr. King again: “Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.”

Warmest regards,

Lesley M. Hallick

Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021