Black History Month and MLK Week

February 2, 2022

Dear members of the NYUAD community,

I want to thank all of you for your adaptability and resilience as we start a new semester. As we work through the evolving pandemic and regional events, our community remains steadfastly committed to inclusion, diversity, belonging, and equity.

We are not alone in pursuing these values. Recently, people around the world celebrated the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. These commemorations are not nostalgic, but active gatherings to ensure that Dr. King’s work and activism continue to inspire and have an effect in our world.

Last year, our community was reminded of the continuous need to examine and address the persistent inequity and injustice faced by disenfranchised and historically marginalized communities. The past two years have seen a resurgence of social movements and a reckoning with colonial legacies that have created global disparity in access to opportunities. Dr. King’s call for “worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one’s tribe, race, class, and nation” exhorts us to embrace community dialogue and action.

These words inspire any day, but they do so, especially at the beginning of February, which in the United States and Canada is Black History Month. Of course, Black history is not separate from a global history, they are one and the same. But the idea, going back almost a century, acknowledges that the lived experiences of Black people have long been vastly underrepresented in historical scholarship as well as public narratives.

Using the month to shine a light on the complex and diverse history of Black people, not just in North America but across the African diaspora, helps inform measures to counter persistent inequities grounded in racism. Over the years I have come to see that learning about Black histories and achievements during this annual initiative can enrich anyone’s understanding of the human story. Every Black History Month, NYU brings the legacy of Dr. King to the fore in its annual MLK Week, this year from February 7 to 12.

As an educational community that was created to prepare a generation of young leaders to improve the world, we strive to embody Dr. King’s teaching in the vision and mission of NYUAD. I encourage our community to use this moment to reflect on his message and recognize the intrinsic value of every person. Each of you contributes to affirming and redefining what NYUAD will be, by creating new possibilities and enhancing our vision.

Just think about the innovation we have achieved together during the pandemic. We saw a commitment to fresh and diverse research, the creation of the NYUAD 2030 Academic Strategy, the newly evolved Inclusion, Equity, and Action Committee, and the realization of the Our NYUAD, Journey to Belonging climate survey, which is allowing us to look at ourselves and propel institutional change.

Today, in honor of Black History Month and on the cusp of MLK week, the Office of Inclusion and Equity is hosting Dr. Angela Davis in a special event titled Black Global Consciousness, which will capture the essence of our current global conversations.

I hope you will join me and all of NYU in commemorating Dr. King and his dedication to the beautiful struggle for a new world.

In solidarity,