Remembering Activists - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King

January 18, 2021

Dear campus community,

January is a time for hope, renewal and restoration. Yet, this year we all must face the reality that our world feels even more fragile after the terrifyingly chaotic and violent events leading up to the inauguration of the 46th president of the United States. Like many of you, I’ve been carefully contemplating how to move forward with the heavy mantle of such divisiveness and hate while also experiencing the ongoing challenges of a global pandemic. Now more than ever, I am reflecting on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s final book, “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community,” which was published in 1967, less than a year before his assassination. 

Dr. King’s 92nd birthday would have taken place on January 15th. It is now a federally recognized holiday due to the staunch advocacy of his late wife, also an activist, Coretta Scott King. Mount Holyoke is commemorating our second annual Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King Week of Racial Justice and Reconciliation with the theme of “Our Interconnectedness Binds Us Together.”  Our theme this year is rooted in Dr. King’s words at Gettel Amphitheater when he spoke to our campus community on October 20, 1963. He noted, “All life is interrelated. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be.”

Once again we intentionally focus our efforts to engage in important action-based dialogues as part of our ongoing efforts to become an anti-racist community that challenges all forms of oppression — and specifically the resurgence of white supremacy. The events begin with the National Day of Racial Healing on January 19 and include a dialogue on fighting anti-Blackness and anti-Semitism with rabbis Josh Lesser and Sandra Lawson and reflection programs on the life of Coretta Scott King. They culminate with an important public lecture, co-sponsored by the Weissman Center for Leadership, with keynote speaker Jelani Cobb, whose talk is titled “The Half-Life of Freedom: Race and Justice in America Today.” 

We are appreciative of the partners across campus who are collaborating on and co-sponsoring these events. Our hope is that this effort on behalf of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and the Division of Student Life, with multiple campus partners, will be instrumental in transforming our campus — and have wider implications for the world beyond Mount Holyoke. May our time together help us to move further away from the chaos that will consume us if it’s not eradicated. May we embrace the fullness of the community we have the potential to become. We welcome the opportunity to be in dialogue and focus on action with each of you. 

Every day, I am grateful to be in community with each of you. 

In solidarity, 

Kijua