Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the federal holiday honoring the birth of one of America’s greatest civil rights leaders. Dr. King was born in 1929, the same year Marist was founded and a time in which America was a place of legalized segregation, denial of basic civil rights, and institutionalized violence against the African-American community. Dr. King fought tirelessly and with great dignity against discrimination, poverty, and injustice, and his message of nonviolence continues to inspire. Today, there are African-Americans at the highest levels of government, business, and education. At the same time, however, we know that our work is not yet finished, and the national conversation about race is ongoing, but I believe that Dr. King would be proud to see what has been accomplished in the almost 49 years since his assassination. May he continue to inspire us as we work to rectify our society’s lingering injustices.
This Friday, members of the Marist community will be attending, as we do every year, the Catharine Street Community Center’s 26th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast. This year’s keynote speaker is 60 Minutes Correspondent Bill Whitaker, who has previously visited the College and shared highlights of his distinguished journalistic career. After his speech at the Catharine Street Community Center’s event, Bill will again come to campus to speak to our students. There are many other community events commemorating Dr. King, and I urge you to think about what you as an individual can do to honor his memory. In these polarized times, I invite you to join me in remembering Dr. King’s noble work and enduring legacy.
Finally, let me take a moment to thank those Marist employees who are working today to help students get ready for the first day of classes tomorrow. Your efforts on behalf of our students are greatly appreciated. Best wishes to all members of the college community for a productive and enjoyable spring semester.