January 12, 2024

What It Means to Honor Martin Luther King Jr.’s Legacy

Dear Lewis & Clark community,

As classes begin again across our campuses, I want to welcome you to the new term, and to wish you the best for the new year. And as we prepare as a community and a country to observe the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, I invite you to reflect on what Dr. King’s legacy means today.

Dr. King was a great leader in part because he was a powerful orator and a gifted writer. His words continue to inspire us, generations later.

     The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.

     Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.

     Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

     Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’

     Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.

These messages are both timeless and timely, and they resonate powerfully in 2024.

But Dr. King did more than write and speak—he also acted, working courageously with others to do what was right, and to work for all of our collective civil rights. As we contemplate world events, consider national and local politics, or navigate struggles in our own lives and in the lives of those we love, Dr. King’s words and deeds can guide us in answering the question of what we will do for others.

Here are some of the “stones of hope” that represent how the Lewis & Clark community is carrying Dr. King’s legacy forward.

Creating Good Trouble

This coming week, there will be a series of free events honoring Dr. King.

Monday, January 15, Volunteer Day: Choose from a variety of on- and off-campus direct service projects focused on helping Portlanders in need and on the environment.

Saturday, January 20, 10 a.m.–3 p.m., Do Good Trouble Summit: Learn about the history of student activism, get inspired by young activists in the Portland area, hone your own activism skills, and meet others on campus interested in advocacy and social change.

Saturday, January 20, 3:30–5 p.m., Music as a Tool for Justice: Join a conversation examining what the word justice means and exploring how it is applied in Oregon. With the aid of local and national hip hop music videos and lyrics, participants will examine the history of our state, from racist laws to resistance movements for racial justice.

Advocating for Legal Justice

Tuesday, February 20, 5 p.m., the law school welcomes Ben Crump for the Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Lecture. A renowned civil rights attorney, Mr. Crump is one of the nation’s foremost lawyers and advocates for social justice. He will be joined by Lewis & Clark Professor Robert Klonoff, who has worked closely with Mr. Crump in ongoing litigation on behalf of the Lacks family against companies that profited by the use of Henrietta Lacks’s “immortal” cell line.

Diversifying Mental Health Care

The Graduate School of Education and Counseling has received nearly $2.4 million from the Oregon Health Authority to diversify the behavioral health workforce. This year and for the following two years, these funds are providing scholarships to graduate students across our counseling/mental health programs who, as mental health practitioners, will increase access to culturally specific and culturally responsive services for people of color, tribal communities, and individuals who have experienced barriers to accessing mental health services.

I hope you will get to participate in and benefit from these opportunities, and the many other Lewis & Clark activities that bring students, faculty, and staff together to build a more just and loving world.

As inspired as I am by Dr. King’s legacy, I am equally inspired by all the ways our community continues that legacy.

In appreciation,

Robin H. Holmes-Sullivan, PhD