A wide shot of a ceramics studio, featuring students working with pottery wheels and other tools.

Dr. King’s Example and Our Continuing Work

Dear SAIC Community,

Each January, the United States recognizes the enduring legacy of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This year, his example of fighting for racial justice and equity feels especially urgent. From the anti-Black police violence that inspired global protests, the unequal impacts of the pandemic, and the white supremacist underpinnings fueling the insurrection at the Capitol, this last year has brought many indisputable reminders of the pervasive effects of racial injustice. Our School is not immune to these effects.

Too many in our campus community have felt overlooked, disadvantaged, and uncared for. While other members of School leadership and I have tried to acknowledge this harm, I know that some feel that real change is not possible. Certainly, progress will be needed to rebuild trust. Thankfully, many have been working to make our School more diverse, equitable, and inclusive. In particular, the members of the Anti-Racism Committee (ARC) and its subcommittees have been hard at work developing thoughtful solutions to bring about structural change. As ARC co-chairs Delinda Collier, interim dean of graduate studies, and Jefferson Pinder, director of diversity, equity, and inclusion for academic affairs, wrote to the community in December, ARC will soon review their subcommittees’ recommendations and work closely with senior administration; shared governance bodies, like Faculty Senate; and me to dedicate funding and resources to these ideas, developing them throughout the School’s short- and long-term planning. We will keep you informed of this work as it progresses. I am so grateful to everyone who has dedicated their time and talents to this effort. Your work will instigate the significant structural improvements we all want to see.

On this Martin Luther King Jr. Day, when we know the important work ahead of us, learning more about Dr. King’s life and work is inspiring and essential. I hope you will be able to join me at the Office of Student Affairs’s event with historian Clarence Goodman, “In the Belly of the Beast: King in Chicago.” Today’s online lecture will focus on Dr. King’s work in the mid-1960s to overturn racial discrimination in housing. It takes place at 12:00 p.m. CT and can be viewed by following this link. More details can be found on Engage

Elissa Tenny