Lest we forget

01-05-2007

As we rapidly approach the beginning of our annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Celebration, it is an appropriate time to pause and reflect back on the significance of Dr. King’s life and legacy.

There is undeniable danger in forgetting important lessons from the past. There is even greater danger in not recognizing the significance of those lessons and not recognizing the courageous people who created historic social progress for our country. Michigan State University, as a land-grant institution, has a responsibility to teach those lessons.

One significant way we can properly commemorate and celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is through events which serve to expand our knowledge of and honor the past. At the same time, the celebration provides numerous opportunities for members of our community to take action to bring about positive change.

This year’s celebration focuses on service and leadership. In many ways, these two human contributions are intimately interconnected. As Dr. King so forcefully exemplified in his own life, a commitment to service, in and of itself, provides leadership. As he faced opposition throughout his life, he worked to overcome obstacles many perceived insurmountable. When others saw barriers, Dr. King found original and dynamic ways to move forward. His dedication and conviction continue to serve as examples for all of us as we face daunting times.

MSU has a rich history as a leader of change. Our longstanding commitment to access, diversity, and inclusion has not endured without challenge. Over the past 150 years, we have remained true to our core values and mission, finding innovative ways to ensure access to an education on our campus and across the globe.

With the passage of Proposal 2, MSU faces yet another formidable challenge. Dr. King once noted, “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” At a time when many are deeply disappointed with the passage of Proposal 2, we must work swiftly to make disappointment finite and our hope for social progress infinite.

As we celebrate the legacy of Dr. King this year, I encourage you to remember the powerful lessons of the past – lessons of strength, courage and resilience. In the past, Americans have confronted and developed ways to overcome social imbalance and civil inequality through access, inclusion, and diversity.

Together, let us promote positive social change with the wisdom, commitment, and vision we share for a promising future.

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