Letter from Chancellor Robinson – MLK Day 2019
Dear Ram Family,
On Monday, January 21, Winston-Salem State University will join the nation in celebrating the legacy and life of one of the greatest figures in American history: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. His work reminded our nation that it was founded on the fundamental belief that all men and women are born equal and all are deserving of liberty. He worked tirelessly to bring about a transformation that would change the very fabric of our nation.
On April 12, 1963, Dr. King was violently arrested after coordinating a series of sit-ins and nonviolent demonstrations in Birmingham, Alabama. On the day of his arrest, eight Alabama clergymen issued a public statement directed at him. The statement accused him of being an “outsider” and asserted that racial injustice in Alabama shouldn’t be his business. This blatant example of the very injustice Dr. King dedicated his life to eradicating led him to pen a book-length open letter now known as the “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”
Dr. King’s letter includes one of his most powerful assertions: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” He saw it as his duty and right to call for change – regardless of whether he was directly and immediately affected. He spent his too-short life crusading for that change. All of us who live in this nation today are benefactors of his work.
At Winston-Salem State University, we believe in a deep individual and institutional responsibility to respond to injustices and work toward the establishment of just, equitable, and sustainable culture, economic, political, and social principles that affirm the worth, value, and dignity of all people. Like Dr. King, we are called to remain unsatisfied “until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”
As we celebrate this national holiday, let us honor Dr. King’s legacy by working together toward the freedom and equality that is at the heart of America’s founding. As he said, “Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.” Let us be inspired by his words and choose to take steps – big or small – to help bring about the dream he so eloquently shared with the world.
Elwood L. Robinson, Ph.D.