The University of Connecticut will observe the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday on Monday, January 17. Observing this holiday provides an opportunity for all of us at UConn to reflect on Dr. King’s life and legacy. In particular, we invite you to reflect on the importance of standing up for racial, social, and economic justice for all. From Dr. King, we learned that we can only reach our potential for justice when we address the needs of those who have been excluded from it historically, especially racially oppressed peoples. We recognize that we cannot truly have justice as long as there are groups for whom justice is denied.
The Office for Diversity and Inclusion has been proud to work alongside faculty, staff, students, and alumni to promote racial, social, and economic justice at UConn. Together, we advocated for education about Anti-Black and Anti-Asian racism. Together, we worked to declare racism a public health crisis. Together, we worked to extend support to historically excluded and racially oppressed groups including Latinx, LGBTQIA+, Middle Eastern, Native and Indigenous, and Undocumented students. Together, we worked to strengthen supports for the victims of sexual violence and harassment. Together, we strengthened our commitment to justice.
We cannot fully realize our commitment to justice, however, until we have eliminated injustices faced by every member of our community, including the Asian, Asian American, Black, Jewish, LGBTQIA+, and Muslim members targeted by acts of harassment and violence. As Dr. King reminds us from a Birmingham jail cell, there is an inherent interrelatedness to all communities; as he could not sit idly by in Atlanta unconcerned about injustices in Birmingham, we cannot sit idly by in the comfort of what we have achieved together and remain unconcerned about injustices faced by these members of our community. In Dr. King’s words:
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught up in an escapable network of mutuality…Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.
As you reflect on Dr. King’s legacy, we ask you to remember that justice for one group, while important, should not remain disconnected from justice for all historically oppressed groups. ODI is committed to supporting your efforts to promote justice for all; we have several resources to help in this endeavor. We are proud to host the 2022 Martin Luther King Living Legacy Convocation, which includes TEDx-style talks from faculty, staff, students, and alumni. Information for that event, as well as our other MLK-related events can be found on our new university-wide website for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice. We also invite you to events sponsored by our Cultural Centers and Programs, including celebrations of the 50th anniversaries of the Puerto Rican/Latin American Cultural Center and the Women’s Center. Please visit our new DEIJ website for more information about upcoming events and opportunities for engagement, as well as for more resources for promoting justice.
We are thankful to each of you who has chosen to get involved in making UConn more justice-oriented university. As we reflect on Dr. King’s legacy, we remember that no one group or unit can achieve justice alone; it takes effort from all of us.
The Office for Diversity & Inclusion