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Living the Dream

Friday, January 13, 2017

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Dear Tulane Community,

On Monday we will celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the Baptist minister, Nobel Peace Prize winner and civil rights icon whose dream continues to challenge and inspire Americans to fully embrace the justice and equality upon which our country was founded.

For the vast majority of our students, and many faculty and staff as well, Dr. King is a revered, historical personage. But many in the Tulane community of a certain age, like myself, remember him as he walked this earth and marched against the injustices of his times – which were our times. In fact, my first job out of law school was serving as a clerk for federal judge and civil rights legend Leon Higginbotham Jr. Judge Higginbotham was among the leaders President Lyndon Johnson summoned to the White House as he sought a path toward national reconciliation following Dr. King's assassination.

I know that we have now made progress toward racial equality and justice that could only be dreamed of back then. But in many ways, it still feels like we are taking our first, tentative steps on a very long and uncertain journey.

Fittingly, Tulane will honor the life and legacy of Dr. King with a Day of Service on Monday. Students from Tulane, Xavier, Loyola and the University of New Orleans will begin the day with registration at 8 a.m. in the Kendall Cram and Qatar rooms on the second floor of the LBC. From there they will board buses to volunteer at an urban farm, an organization that rebuilds blighted houses and a group that brings computer science and computer engineering instruction to underserved schools and community centers.

That same evening, the Tulane and New Orleans communities are invited to a conversation with New York Times columnist Charles Blow on the state of race relations in the United States, the role of journalists in the age of misinformation and the use of social media in the quest for social justice. This special event, which is sponsored by the Amistad Research Center, in partnership with the Tulane University Office of Multicultural Affairs, will take place from 7 to 8:30 p.m., at Dixon Hall auditorium. The event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited. To ensure your spot, register online. At 6:30 p.m., prior to the discussion, Mr. Blow will be available for a book signing in the Dixon Hall Annex, adjacent to the auditorium.

To ensure we continue to promote Dr. King's dream, we are constantly seeking ways to improve the racial climate on campus. Our many efforts in this area range from increasing the number of students, faculty and staff from African-American and other underrepresented groups to creating a larger space and increased funding for The O, home of programs that support diverse cultural, social and intellectual life at Tulane.

My hope is that, as an academic community, we will not only honor Dr. King, but sincerely follow his footsteps on the path toward racial justice and equality.