A Time for Reflection and Action

Celebration of Dr. King comes at critical juncture at U-M.
By Corie Pauling, ’93


Read time: 2 minutes
MLK At Hill Auditorium
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at Hill Auditorium on Nov. 11, 1962. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library.

As we prepare to celebrate the life, legacy, and r(evolution) of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I invite you to take a moment to reflect on the impact of the movements and activism that have touched your life, and perhaps your own contributions as a change agent in the world.

Dr. King’s legacy is the epitome of the power we each hold to inspire and impact others. This wonderful photo captures him at our own Hill Auditorium. He was a giant for sure, but he was also first a college student, a fraternity member, a minister, a son, a husband, and a father. That means he was like you and me in our space of growing influence.

Questions we can ask ourselves in every experience: Am I giving my very best? Am I lifting and inspiring? Michigan alumni, given our collective pride in this exceptional institution and broader community, fully embracing its challenges and opportunities, can harness that power. I am grateful for my journey as a civil rights attorney and DEI leader, and now leading the Alumni Association of the University of Michigan, for many precious moments of inspiration and impact.

U-M’s Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium is one of the oldest celebrations of Dr. King’s life and impact in the country, with programs throughout January and February. All alumni are invited to join the virtual events, starting with the 2023 Memorial Keynote Lecture on Jan. 16 at 10 a.m. ET. This year’s program will explore Dr. King’s activism after 1964, which included topics such as health, economics, and education.

The celebration and discussion of Dr. King come at an important time for the University. This week, U-M leaders outlined the results of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion 1.0 Evaluation Report that summarizes unit and campuswide efforts to evolve DEI. The deep demographic data and insights showcase the benefits of diversity for enriching the educational and alumni experience and the continued leadership and commitment to DEI.

As U-M alumni, you can play a special role as ambassadors, supporters, and mentors of diverse talent. To support that effort, in the coming weeks, the Alumni Association will host a discussion on the state of diversity at the University featuring Tabbye Chavous, U-M’s vice provost for equity & inclusion and chief diversity officer. Stay tuned for more information on this important discussion.

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