Honoring Dr. King: In Service to Justice

January 16, 2023

Dear Lynx community,

As we prepare to start spring semester tomorrow at CU Denver, we pause today to honor the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

As a leader of the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. King sparked changes in laws, public perceptions, and actions that have uplifted the Black community and individuals of all races, creeds, and identities, even as injustices persist. As a reverend, he expressed faith and love for all peoples that compelled him to recognize the potential for positive societal transformation through nonviolence. And as an individual, he reflected and advanced ideals—including equity, dignity, and justice—we all must stand for.

Because these remain ideals rather than realities for many, today serves to remind us that they are outcomes we must continue to work for, individually and collectively. I encourage you to use today, a Day of Service, to engage in activities supporting these ideals that Dr. King stood for—in City Park in Denver, in your own community, or in your own way.

As we pursue our goal of being the first equity-serving institution in the nation, we recognize that equity looks different to everyone. CU Denver community members represent a broad array of racial, national, and social identities. The rich and varied perspectives you bring to campus dramatically enrich our academic and social environment. Our ambition is to hear and give voice to these perspectives—indeed, it is our responsibility as a public urban research university—and for these perspectives to inform actions we take to support a sense of belonging for all.

Yet while our diversity brings us vitality, our differences often call for reflection, contemplation, and deep conversation. One such conversation happening in our campus community is on how we recognize important cultural holidays and milestones, so that we honor the breadth of experiences, identities, and cultures important to CU Denver stakeholders, while fulfilling the academic and operational imperatives of the university. A team with CU Denver faculty, staff, and student representation has been reviewing our paid holiday schedule to strike an intentional balance between these factors, with the goal of making recommendations this spring that can guide our calendar going forward. This is just one example of how our equity values are leading us through complex discourse and decisions.

Of course, our imperative to recognize and respect the diversity of the CU Denver community is not bound to a single holiday: It’s one we must heed every day of every year. But today, I urge you to honor Dr. King’s legacy by refreshing your commitment to an inclusive and just environment on our campus and wherever you can have an impact. Let his words—“True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice”—guide our purpose as we square our shoulders toward CU Denver’s next 50 years, and as we kick off the Spring 2023 semester tomorrow.

Michelle Mark signature

Michelle Marks

Chancellor’s Office

CU Denver

Lawrence Street Center

1380 Lawrence Street

Suite 1400

Denver, CO 80204


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