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Letters to Our Community

On the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. & Today's Work Towards Racial Healing

Tuesday, January 19, 2021


Greetings Scholars, Staff, Faculty, and UC Merced Community Members,

We want to welcome you and wish you luck to the start of a new year and another semester – a beginning for many, a continuation for others, and for some, the culmination of years of hard work. From the Office of Social Justice Initiatives and Identity Programs – YOU GOT THIS!

As we embark on this Spring Semester, our classrooms still differ from our original expectations of a college experience. Our home lives vary, as we all find ways, often by trial and error and triumph, to cope with mass and constant change, with virtual atmospheres, with lessened contact and social experiences, and with loss and grief for loved ones gone too soon. On Monday, January 18, 2021, we commemorated the birthday (Jan. 15th) and work of Civil Rights Leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the many activists, seen and unseen, who worked toward racial equity, economic equality, human rights, and so much more. We can only imagine the words and actions of Dr. MLK Jr., if he were still with us today, witnessing the climactic events surrounding us – continued police brutality of Black and Brown people, violence across the nation inspired and instructed by political leaders, mass stratification of economic resources, health disparities between white and non-white counterparts and wealthy and non-wealthy folks, families being inhumanely separated, and the list goes on. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Coretta Scott King, and so many Civil Rights Leaders who stood strong in the face of injustice and tyranny left a legacy of action and service. Our office has been inspired by this legacy, year after year, and seeks to continue, in action, dismantling systems of injustice, advocating for the rights of disenfranchised and marginalized peoples, creating spaces for voices to be heard (loud and clear), opening opportunities to heal, grow, and renew ourselves in the fight for social justice, and building community, knowing that this work is not done alone, but rather, that progress is achieved by many. We invoke the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. from his 1947 piece called “The Purpose of Education” today, as we begin this new semester:

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”

We charge you – Scholars, Staff, Faculty, and UCM Community – to consider the roles you play, in your home, in your classrooms, and in your community. We ask you – how can you embrace this legacy of action and service towards a better tomorrow, for all human beings? We beg you – to let your brilliance shine! We need you – to use your personal experiences, your education, your critical thinking, and your character to innovate, to expand our thinking, and to build up our communities. We invite you – to join us, in radical healing and transformation, now and tomorrow.

Today, January 19, 2021, not only marks the first day of the Spring Semester, but also the National Day of Racial Healing. Our Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion has invited us all to join the viewing of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Livestream event at 12:00PM PST. In case you missed it, here’s the link to join: We are excited to be inspired by this coming together of the nation towards radical healing, restoration, and reconciliation. Below are some additional resources to learn more about the Day of Racial Healing.

The Office of Social Justice Initiatives & Identity Programs will continue this healing work throughout the semester with our Radical Healing Series. Our first event will take place on Wednesday, January 27th from 11:00AM-12:00PM PST with special guest Angie Franklin, founder of AfroYoga and AfroYoga Allies, and wellness entrepreneur committed to the uplift of Black and Brown people. We hope you’ll join us for this special event on Restorative Wellness, open to all UC Merced scholars, staff, and faculty. More information will be coming to you soon.

Today, may we continue to embrace Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy of service and action, as we commit to the transformational acts of progress, healing, and innovation, in our own lives, within our evolving campus, and in our beloved communities. To all our Bobcats, near and far…

Fiat Lux… let there by light.


In Solidarity,

Lorene Fisher & The Office of Social Justice Initiatives & Identity Programs