School of Nursing

January 15, 2021

Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

On Monday, we honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We can best do that with actions directed at achieving the goals he so eloquently set out for us.

This is and should be a “working holiday,” because there is considerable work to be done. As last summer’s Black Lives Matter demonstrations and the recent Capitol insurrection brought into stark relief, we are far from having achieved the society about which Dr. King had a dream.

I have to believe, however, that Dr. King would see hope and possibilities, as well as shortfalls, in where we are at.

He would have seen hope in the street medics we are honoring this month with the 2021 Martin Luther King, Jr. Service Award. When last summer’s demonstrations and occupation resulted in injuries, nurses and nursing students stepped forward to provide first aid to those seeking racial justice on the streets of Seattle and across the nation. They did this because they believed that making your voice heard in protest shouldn’t be dangerous or put those seeking redress and demand equal justice for all in harm’s way.

We also recently launched an expanded and revised website focusing on our school’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, under the leadership Dr. Butch de Castro and in partnership with the Diversity Committee.  These pages provide a deeper and more transparent look at our efforts to create a world where quality and equitable health care – and health care education – are available to all.

Dr. King would also have found hope in the efforts we as a school have made in the last year to address the core issue of racism. As a school community, we must be deeply committed to antiracism, an all-encompassing approach that means far more than just being “not racist.” It means being an active opponent of racism and marginalization of all people of color.

Antiracism is about raising awareness, encouraging thoughtful consideration, and providing insights into the lived experiences of those who face racism on a daily basis. Its goals cannot be reached by simply being “not racist.” It requires an active antiracist mindset, awareness, and action from each of us, every day.

On Monday, I encourage everyone to spend time thinking about how different and better our society could be if systemic racism were to be replaced with respect and tolerance for each other. It is something we should find time for to reflect on every day.

That was Dr. King’s dream. It’s a dream I share.