Embracing the Vision and Values of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

By Dr. William H. Hughes, Ph.D., Chief Academic Officer

Today is a day to pause and take a reckoning of our work and direction.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a man of deep and abiding faith, compassion and dedication.  His life is a reminder that “human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability,” and that “the time is always ripe to do right.”  He challenged us all to live up to the ideals enshrined in our founding documents – in which we are all created equal, endowed with unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

I was a child and in my early teens when Dr. King lived and was assassinated for his work and beliefs.  I saw my family and friend’s families engage in his dream of a vibrant multiracial nation, united in peace and reconciliation, a country where every person has a place at the table. 

Dr. King personalized the timeless values he taught us through his example — the values of courage, truth, justice, compassion, dignity, humility and service that so radiantly defined Dr. King’s character and empowered his leadership. On this holiday, we commemorate the universal, unconditional love, forgiveness and nonviolence that empowered his revolutionary spirit.

We are all committed to honoring Dr. King’s legacy.  That means recognizing the human dignity in all people we serve.   It means ensuring that those who serve are judged not based on who they are or where they come from, but rather what they have to offer to our community, state and nation.

Dr. King once said that we all have to decide whether we “will walk in the light of creative altruism or the darkness of destructive selfishness. Life’s most persistent and nagging question, he said, is `what are you doing for others?’” he would quote Mark 9:35, the scripture in which Jesus of Nazareth tells James and John “…whosoever will be great among you shall be your servant; and whosoever among you will be the first shall be the servant of all.”

As we remember Dr. King on his birthday, let’s recommit ourselves to the standard he set, the legacy that lives on and the challenge that remains.

Our students and their families deserve no less.