From the President: Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

January 13, 2023

Dear Southern community,  

On January 15, 2023, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would have been 94 years old. In his short life, he taught us about equality, about what is right, and about the true meaning of democracy. He taught us that positive change can be effected through nonviolent protest, and he showed us the way to a better America. Although we lost him much too soon, we recognize that his mission — and his message of equity, justice, and freedom — did not die with him. 

Here at Southern, we embrace Dr. King's message and continue to work towards advancing Southern's mission of being a social justice and anti-racist university. As part of that work, we offer the following events:

  • In honor of the 7th Annual National Day of Racial Healing, the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion will host a healing circle on January 17 from 1:30-3:00 p.m. in ASC 301.  We invite colleagues to attend this healing circle, which will provide an opportunity for all of us to come together and share our experiences, enhance empathy, advance racial equity, and build solidarity. In the spirit of fostering a brave environment conducive to healing, we ask all participants to arrive on time and stay for as long as you are able.  If you are unable to make this event, we will host two more throughout the semester, which will be open to all faculty and staff on our campus. RSVP by January 16.
  • I hope you will join other members of our community in the ASC Ballroom on February 1 at 12:30 p.m. to commemorate Dr. King's birthday at the annual MLK Day Commemoration. Our special event this year is an original, thought-provoking, and intimate interpretation of the complex human side of Dr. King in the one-man play From Myth To Man: Martin Luther King, An Interpretation. Performed by actor and Southern alumnus John Ivey, ’73, MS ’82, the play was written and directed by Ira Knight, playwright and producer. An audience talkback with both Ivey and Knight will follow the performance. This event is sponsored by the Multicultural Center with support from the MLK Committee; Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Office of Alumni Relations; Integrated Communications and Marketing; and the Minority Recruitment Mentoring Committee. You can read more about the event here
  • You can also find opportunities to observe Dr. King's birthday in the local community. For example, on January 15 from 12:30-3:30, Yale's Peabody Museum will be hosting its 27th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Legacy of Social & Environmental Justice event, which will include speakers, storytelling, and an interactive performance of African dance and drumming. The museum will also be hosting an MLK-themed poetry slam on January 16. Learn more about these events and register to attend virtually or in person here.

As we look to Dr. King's example this weekend, I encourage each of you to strive to embody his values of diversity and equity and engage in social change with purpose and intention through your teaching, leadership, community outreach, and service -- not for one day only, but throughout the year.   


Joe Bertolino