Martin Luther King Jr. Day
January 14, 2021
To the Campus Community,
On Monday, January 18, the nation, the state of New York, and Stony Brook University will observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Classes will not be in session, and academic and administrative offices along with Stony Brook Child Care Services will be closed. The Hospital, Long Island State Veterans Home, and Stony Brook Medicine outpatient facilities will maintain normal operations.
It is both awe-inspiring and deeply saddening that the words and message of Dr. King resonate as profoundly today as they did during his life. It speaks to his incredible gift as an orator, his wisdom, and his hope both for our country and for humanity. But it also speaks to the fact that in many ways, our country has not met his call for racial and economic justice.
In a time of great isolation — just as many of us were seeing friends, saying goodbye to loved ones, celebrating birthdays, studying, and working all behind the glow of a computer screen — a movement for racial justice and concrete accountability intensified. The events following the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, and leading right up to last week’s insurrection at the United States Capitol, have highlighted an ugly truth, which is that despite living in an era often described as one of innovation and progress, it is also a time of complacency, stagnation, and even regression.
“The mere fact that we live in the United States means that we are caught in a network of inescapable mutuality,” Dr. King writes, prophetically, in his 1958 memoir of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Stride Toward Freedom. “Therefore, no American can afford to be apathetic about the problem of racial justice. It is a problem that meets every man at his front door. The racial problem will be solved in America to the degree that every American considers himself personally confronted with it. Whether one lives in the heart of the Deep South or on the periphery of the North, the problem of injustice is his problem; it is his problem because it is America’s problem.”
On January 18, I urge you to take the time to think and reflect on the past year in our country and our world. It is our responsibility to meet the problem of racial injustice head on, with compassion, accountability, and the courage that Dr. King demonstrated in his leadership and throughout his remarkable life.