From the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Dear St. Thomas community,

As the university honors Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Monday, we do so amid some of the most troubled times in our nation’s history. Now more than ever, we should draw inspiration from Dr. King’s vision for peace and justice.

HeadshotsThis moment, which many will remember as acts of violence, terrorism and a threat to our democracy, has further challenged us to recognize the growing polarization in our country and to use our voices to unite toward a just and equitable society.

With ongoing currents of white supremacy and the recent attempted coup at the U.S. Capitol, we must remember we are on a constant march toward the promised land.  Just as some walked with Dr. King, studied him intently or hold him as an icon of liberation and freedom, we hope you hold dear what he stood for, especially in these trying times.

Our tenacity, perseverance, and fortitude are being summoned by the journey and words of Dr. King to recommit ourselves to the notion that we are one nation with many voices under the many lenses of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, ability, and economic status.

We must not tire in the presence of those who wish to subvert our collective desire to blend our many gifts into unified communities. We must imbue the principles of inclusion into our classrooms, colleges, searches, evaluations, governance, and achievements.

We must lead with courage, understanding that to truly uphold Dr. King’s legacy, we will need to honestly examine ourselves and our institution and speak up, call in, and collectively make change. Dr. King laid his life down and shared his dream so we could know and have a more diverse existence with a focus on including all voices in shared equity.

As you celebrate this great human, leader, and visionary of who we can be, please be mindful of the compassion and courage that his dream asks of each of us to show our fellow colleagues, students, administrators, and community members.

There is one vessel we all must travel forward in; our community is for all of us. Let us break free from the prison of divisiveness and continue our march toward an inclusive and just space.

With the upcoming inauguration, please be safe and unite for a peaceful transition.  We invite all to join us via Zoom on January 20, from 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., for open office hours to check-in during these challenging times.

In solidarity,

Kha Yang, Associate Vice President for Inclusive Excellence
Ernest Owens, DEI Fellow, Assistant Professor, OPUS
Kevin Henderson, DEI Fellow, Professor, OPUS
Amy Finnegan, DEI Fellow, Associate Professor, CAS

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