A Message from Dr. Gail Christopher on MLK Day 2020
In a speech delivered at Cornell College, in Vermont Iowa in 1962, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “I am convinced that men hate each other because they fear each other. They fear each other because they don’t know each other, and they don’t know each other because they don’t communicate with each other, and they don’t communicate with each other because they are separated from each other.”
In cities and towns all across America today, people are honoring Dr. King’s legacy through community service. This is good. Today people will honor his legacy by participating in a National Day of Racial Healing, an annual commemoration launched in 2018 as part of the Truth Racial Healing and Transformation (TRHT) work. Leaders from every sector worked collaboratively to design a set of recommendations for helping to heal America’s racial divide using an overarching framework that I designed before leaving the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. This framework emphasizes that separation is a primary tool for maintaining the fallacy of racial hierarchy and its harmful consequences. Our entrenched systems of separation take many forms today. These range from residential segregation and concentrated poverty, food deserts and school segregation to incarceration inequities and cruel immigration policies. Racial separation perpetuates limited access to life saving health care in communities made vulnerable by exposure to environmental toxins including the stress and trauma caused by violence and inadequate resources.
Dr. King knew that people had to work together to actualize his dream. He knew that learning to see ourselves in the faces of one another through genuine communication with one another was required for overcoming hate and creating lasting equity in America. We honor Dr. King’s legacy and his ultimate sacrifice when we engage in racial healing efforts. NCHE urges you to both serve your community today and come together for racial healing circles today by participating in the annual National Day of Racial Healing.