Dear Eastern Community,
Today we celebrate Martin Luther King Day. This year, the holiday falls on Dr. King’s actual birthday, and significantly, it is also the year in which more voters than ever before in history will head to the polls in at least 64 countries, representing a combined population of 49% of people globally.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s prophetic voice is as relevant as ever in 2024, as we reflect on the current state of the world and its social, economic, political, and spiritual realities.There are a few issues I urge you to think about this MLK Day:
Dr. King was a staunch advocate of voting rights and believed it to be the foundation of political action. In his 1965 letter to the New York Amsterdam News, Dr. King urged the passage of the Voting Rights Act, noting: “In the past, apathy was a moral failure. Today, it is a form of moral and political suicide.” As we approach the 2024 elections, Dr. King’s words are an important reminder for everyone about the importance of placing our votes.
“There is nothing new about poverty. What is new, however, is that we have the resources to get rid of it,” shared Dr. King.
The issue of poverty, inequality, and economic justice is an ongoing concern in the United States. Dr. King’s commitment to these issues was unwavering and he challenged laws that victimized the working class and those in poverty until the day of his death. His advocacy against poverty was rooted in his faith and commitment to the gospel. He was guided by his values of faith, reason, and justice, as we are here at Eastern.
Violence and War
The reality of war, mass shootings, and other forms of violence that plague our world are also on the minds of many. Dr. King preached against the destructive nature of violence and noted that it is rooted in hatred, destroys community, and creates bitterness and brutality within people. Transformational love and essential core values of the gospel are the foundation of Dr. King’s message.
In his 1964 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, Dr. King offers us a value-driven formula that can be useful as we grapple with the realities of 2024:
"I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality."
As we celebrate this day and reflect on Dr. King’s life and legacy, we are well positioned as a Christian community to respond to each other and to our world with true compassion. Our commitment to diversity, equity, and belonging is a commitment reflective of the tradition of Dr. King.
“Thus says the LORD of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.” Zechariah 7:10
Randolph Walters, Psy.D, LPC, CCTP, CSAM
Special Assistant to the President for Diversity, Equity, and Belonging
Professor, Counseling Psychology Department
Eastern University | 1300 Eagle Road, St. Davids, PA 19087
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