School of Nursing

January 16, 2023

Take a Minute | Action and Reflection for the Principles of Dr. King

As we celebrate the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, I invite you to take a minute today and think about the values and principles for which Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood, and the ways in which you can live by and for those values.

Dr. King was an advocate for equity. He believed in the notion that all people are created equal, though he lived in a time and place where people of color were seen and treated by far too many as not equal.

You can be an advocate for equity by simply seeing and valuing everyone as a whole person, worthy of respect and compassion.

Dr. King was an advocate for voting rights. He knew that the ballot box was a tool that—properly used—was a force for good. He understood that most people in the U.S. believe in democracy, and that voting is the foundation of that democracy.

You can be an advocate for democracy by opposing any attempt to limit the right of every person to vote.

Dr. King was an advocate for nonviolence. He counseled those who listened to assert their rights forcefully but peacefully. “Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people; nonviolence seeks to win friendships and understanding; nonviolence seeks to defeat injustice or evil, not people; nonviolence holds that unearned, voluntary suffering for a just cause can educate and transform.”

You can advocate for nonviolence by rejecting those who would wreak physical and psychological havoc and seek to get their way by means of force. You can hold to account those who seek to achieve ends through violent means.

Dr. King was an advocate for optimism. Despite the realities of systemic racism that affected every aspect of Black life, Dr. King remained an eternal optimist. He believed in the ideals and values of America. He believed in the inherent goodness of the majority of humanity. And he believed that eventually there would be a country where equity and peace would prevail. That the arc of the universe would, indeed, bend toward justice, truth, progress, compassion and hope.

Nursing has a strong imperative to align itself with what Dr. King advocated. That is why the UW School of Nursing invests time, effort, and resources in initiatives such as our Center for Anti-racism in Nursing, that help create a nursing workforce for which equity is a priority. It is also why we are dedicated to educating nurse-leaders—nurses who will inspire other nurses to be compassionate and caring toward every individual.

For nursing, equity and optimism are not abstract goals—they are professional standards.

You can be part of this effort by standing, with pride, for the values held by Dr. King. What you do makes a difference. What you say makes a difference. How you act makes a difference. Commit to making every day a day when you take just a moment to think about how you personally can advance the goals set forth by Martin Luther King, Jr.

To further immerse yourself in the legacy of Dr. King, I recommend taking an additional minute to visit “Cultivating a Beloved Community Mindset to Transform Unjust Systems,” a commemorative, interactive digital experience presented by UW Medicine in partnership with UW Health Sciences.