Honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

January 15, 2024

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

Each year we recognize the exceptional contributions of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to the transcendent objective of a world in which each person experiences justice, opportunity, and the unshakable knowledge that they belong in the beloved community of humankind. This objective is as crucial as it is visionary, as urgent as it is loving, as immediate as it is timeless. 

This year, we invite each one of you to consider, with us, what real and concrete steps you will take not only now but over the arc of your life to realize this vision. Dr. King urged us, “Make a career of humanity. Commit yourself to the noble struggle for equal rights. You will make a better person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in.” Indeed, this mandate is at the core of our mission at Seattle University, as we seek to empower leaders for a just and humane world. It is embedded in our Jesuit, Catholic identity; it is enshrined in our practices and our aspirations. 

But make no mistake: the struggle for equal rights is a challenging one, a struggle that will demand your time, your insight, your energy – even your discomfort. This year, as we observe the 60th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, and the 70th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court Decision Brown vs. the Board of Education, it is with a measure of mourning for the fact that past successes in the pursuit of equity and universal justice are under threat. Despite the example left by Dr. King and many other brave people who put their lives on the line over the last seven decades, there are those still striving to roll back the tide of progress. In some cases, they are succeeding. 

It is no exaggeration to say that the future is in our hands and that we must rise to the challenges of this moment. Each of us should ask – What can I do to make this world a more just place than I found it? These divisive times call for listening, learning, grace, even forgiveness. In that spirit, we invite you to the following opportunities to honor Dr. King’s legacy and further reflect on our collective and individual efforts to bring justice for all to fruition: 

  • Monday, January 15, at 11 a.m., Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Mass and Celebration, Chapel of St. Ignatius | Join Seattle’s Black Catholic Advisory Circle in celebrating the life and work of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This year’s theme is “Now is the Time to Make Real the Promises of Democracy,” and the Mass will be led by Fr. Gary Lazzeroni. The Mass is co-sponsored by SU’s Campus Ministry and the Institute for Catholic Thought and Culture. (Note: This Mass will take place notwithstanding that Seattle University is closed Monday, Jan. 15, in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.)

  • Tuesday, January 16, at 12:15 p.m., Campus Community’s 2024 Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration, Pigott Auditorium | Join the Seattle University community in honoring the legacy of Dr. King. The event will feature a keynote address by Dr. Robin D.G. Kelley, who will examine Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s global vision of justice and reflect on its implications for today. There will also be a musical performance by Dr. Quinton Morris, and more. Box lunches will be available for pickup after the program. To help with catering, please RSVP to ODI for lunch. Learn more about the event at the Office of Diversity and Inclusion

We close with a charge from Dr. King himself: "The ultimate measure of a [person] is not where [they] stand in moments of comfort and convenience, but where [they] stand at times of challenge and controversy." 

May we always stand on the side of humanity. 


Eduardo M. Peñalver

Natasha Martin
Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion