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Myatt Center for Diversity and Inclusion Director Reflects on Why He Celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day Every Year
Juan Hernandez, director of the University of New Haven’s Myatt Center for Diversity and Inclusion, believes that Dr. King’s legacy as the leader of the civil rights movement is just as relevant in 2019 as it was in the 1960s, and that we still have much to learn from his message.
January 17, 2019
By Juan Hernandez, Director, Myatt Center for Diversity and Inclusion
Martin Luther King Jr. was a trailblazer and a visionary. I take great pride in celebrating a national holiday in his memory because it honors the progress that we have made as a country in the fight for equity and justice. But, perhaps more importantly, MLK Day is also a reminder that we still have much to fight for.
In many ways, we are just as divided as a nation today as we were during the civil rights movement. Dr. King’s wise words – whether in his iconic "I Have a Dream" speech or in Letter from Birmingham Jail – are still used to reference why our work is not yet done.
A tireless, bold, and dedicated leader, Dr. King was known for holding those in power accountable. Though current policy and leadership frustrations cross party lines, we stand on the shoulders of giants like Dr. King, who helped lay the groundwork that gave us the ability to fight for our rights, and who also instilled in us the courage to continue pushing for social justice and equality.
"We must aspire to be a post-racist society that embraces our differences, and celebrates and respects all people."Juan Hernandez, Director, Myatt Center for Diversity and Inclusion
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is an important opportunity to commemorate and remember all that Dr. King accomplished – as well as those who helped further his mission. Bayard Rustin, John Lewis, and Coretta Scott King – Dr. King’s wife and a devoted activist – were just a few of the many brave and influential leaders of the civil rights movement.
The work of these passionate individuals reminds me, too, that we still need spaces like the Myatt Center for Diversity and Inclusion to recognize their legacy and continue their work. We must aspire to be a post-racist society that embraces our differences, and celebrates and respects all people.
To honor Dr. King’s legacy, the Myatt Center will be hosting Dr. Jeffrey O. G. Ogbar, a history professor at the University of Connecticut, who will discuss Dr. King’s legacy among millennial activists. The Myatt Center will also be showing "Selma", a film that focuses on Dr. King’s work on the historic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. It is my hope that many members of the University community will participate in these events and that they will lead to thought-provoking discussions among our students.