Message From President Pitchford: MLK Day

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Dominican University of California President Nicola Pitchford delivered the following message to the Dominican community on January 12 in advance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Martin Luther King, Jr., Day is Monday, January 16, and classes at Dominican begin the following day. I write today to welcome you to the new semester, to wish you a safe and refreshing weekend ahead of a bustling spring, and to invite your (continuing) partnership in advancing Dr. King’s vision for racial justice and systematized equity.

Stacy Poe, Executive Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, invited all of us—students, faculty, staff, and alumni—to gather Friday to discuss the continued impact and call to action of MLK's legacy, responding to the King Center’s theme for this year’s MLK Day. 

Dismantling that operationalized racism, uplifting Black voices, and rewriting the structures that have for hundreds of years successfully oppressed Black people is an institutional priority. I found the following words from Dr. King especially clarifying.

Many of the people who supported us in Selma and in Birmingham were really outraged about the extremist behavior towards Negroes; but they were not at that moment—and they are not now—committed to genuine equality for Negroes. 

It’s much easier to integrate a lunch counter than it is to guarantee an annual income. [...] It’s much easier to integrate a bus than it is to make genuine integration a reality and quality education a reality. [...] I think we are in a new era, a new phase of this struggle, where we have moved from a struggle for decency [...] to a struggle for genuine equality.

We are still in that phase. The economic, health, and education disparities of which Dr. King spoke in 1967 persist (indeed they are thriving) today. These are the lived experiences of Black people that comprise America’s broken promise of freedom.

We start at home. We examine Dominican’s policies and practices, and we rewrite them to eliminate bias and condemn anti-Blackness and other forms of prejudice. We dig deep, we get uncomfortable, and we design equity into the fabric of our institution.  This is our mission and a moral imperative. 

When you see in your study or your work opportunities to engage the values Dr. King espoused—peace, freedom, equality, anti-racism—embrace them, and share with me how I can champion your efforts.

Our work continues. 

Senior leaders, including the Board of Trustees, will persist in learning to make decisions with an anti-racist lens. We’ll make education equity the default and expectation of all aspects of the university. 

The NAACP provides some high-level resources if you or your students, peers, or colleagues are seeking to learn more about (or revisit) Dr. King’s legacy of social justice work or prominent figures and legislation in the history of civil rights nationally. If you are seeking an opportunity over the weekend to honor MLK Day, there are dozens of commemorative events taking place across the Bay Area.

Thank you for everything you do.

Dominican’s campus will be closed Monday in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

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