Martin Luther King Day Message
Students, staff, and faculty of New England College,
Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. It is a day when we join our fellow citizens in pausing our teaching, learning, working, and playing to reflect on one of America’s greatest sons, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Given all that has transpired since the last MLK Day, we have much upon which we should reflect.
Certainly, there is much about which I am very proud. Our community’s response to the COVID-19 global pandemic has been nothing short of spectacular. Much has been asked of each and every one of you and you have not disappointed. Students, your steadfastness in responding to the challenges and opportunities that have come in the face of COVID is remarkable. Staff and faculty, your willingness to roll up your sleeves and do whatever is required of you to ensure our students have every opportunity to succeed has my deep admiration. I am proud of our College and am honored to be your President.
Still, even with these moments of joy, there have been moments of concern. We must continue to reflect on these as well. Our nation faces a serious challenge from those who would seek to overturn our democratic principles – to bring to an end an unblemished history of a peaceful transition of power from one President to another. I can only imagine what Dr. King might have said if he had experienced our current challenges. But I know he would remind us of America’s promise and point to heroes like U.S. Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman who single-handedly faced down an angry mob and then led them away from the U.S. Senate Chamber. Such heroism reminds me of Dr. King’s words, “There is nothing more majestic and sublime than the quiet testimony of a people willing to sacrifice and suffer for the cause of freedom.” Dr. King was right, of course, and we should take a moment in his name to think of the women and men who serve as our guardians of freedom in Washington and across our nation.
While national politics has certainly taken center stage across our nation I continue to reflect on the events of this Summer and throughout the year since last we honored Dr. King. The death of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, and so many others remains very much on my mind as we continue to struggle as a nation to extend America’s promise to all its citizens. We must say their names. We must do more. I am committed to honoring Dr. King’s call to action when he said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” The stakes are too high to ignore. We will continue to move forward as a community.
Dr. King’s gift to us all came in many forms. His work early in leading the Montgomery Bus Boycott all the way to his most celebrated, I Have a Dream speech in Washington, DC all carried a consistent theme of optimism, service, and the promise that brighter days are ahead. I cherish this gift of his and I hope you will too.
Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
Michele D. Perkins, EdD
New England College