The University of Connecticut will observe Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday, January 16. Observing this holiday provides an opportunity to reflect on Dr. King’s life and legacy, as well as on the importance of standing up for racial, social, and economic justice for all. From Dr. King, we learned that we can only attain 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 to whom justice is denied.
This year, ODI invites you to reflect on the importance of promoting greater equity, especially through efforts to identify and eliminate forms of systemic racism that lead to health inequities. ODI has been proud to work alongside faculty, staff, students, and alumni to promote racial, social, and economic justice at UConn. We are especially proud of the undergraduate student body’s call for the University to identify the impacts of systemic racism by declaring racism a public health crisis; we laud the University’s, Student Health and Wellness’s (SHaW), and UConn Health’s efforts to promote health equity at UConn and in the communities we serve by identifying biases, belief systems, and processes that contribute to systemic racism.
ODI believes that we can only address injustice if we first identify the historic and contemporary effects of racism. To that end, we are proud to participate in the Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation (TRHT) Campus Center Initiative, a comprehensive national and community-based process to bring about transformational and sustainable change by replacing deeply held belief systems that fuel systemic racism with ones that see the inherent value of all people. A core tenet of the TRHT framework is that racial healing is at the heart of racial equity. To that end, we are excited to participate in the TRHT’s National Day of Racial Healing, part of a nationwide effort to help drive more equitable systems.
We invite all members of the UConn community to participate in events celebrating Dr. King’s life and legacy and continuing the work of dismantling systemic racism:
- The MLK Day of Service (Monday, 1/16, 8:00 AM to 3:45 PM, Student Union ballroom)
- UConn’s National Day of Racial Healing event (Tuesday, 1/17, 12:00 – 1:30 PM in the Class of ’47 room of UConn Library). This event, titled “Counternarratives on the Racial Realities of Working in Predominantly White Spaces” will feature UConn faculty and staff sharing their lived experiences related to race in higher education. t
- The MLK Living Legacy Convocation (Thursday, 1/19, 6:30 to 8:30 PM, Jorgensen Center). This event will feature a keynote speech by Dr. Eddie Glaude, Jr., performances by Shayy Winn, Isaac Barber, Bloomfield High School’s Voices of Inspiration, Voices of Freedom, and more. This event is free and open to all, but a ticket is required.
Please visit UConn’s DEIJ website for more information about upcoming events and opportunities for engagement, as well as for more resources for promoting justice and equity. 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. We are thankful to each of you who has chosen to get involved in making UConn a more justice-oriented and equitable university.