On Monday, we mark the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a time to remember the transformational work he did to advance the cause of social justice, raise awareness of individual and institutional racism, advance the idea that governments should work for all citizens, and inspire political and civic action.
In his Inaugural Address this week, Governor Kitzhaber said:
“Disparity is the enemy of community; it separates us; it divides us; it reflects inequality; a lack of fairness; and it means someone is being left behind; that someone is being excluded from the community. And for those who are excluded there is no common purpose. And if there is no common purpose there is no community. And if there is no community, there is no way we can successfully meet the challenges we face as a state and as a society.”
As we look around our nation (and the rest of the world!) today, it is clear that there is so much more work to be done. Humankind still struggles with disparities of race, religion, gender, sexual identity, wealth and power. However, Dr. King’s legacy is very real here at the Department of Human Services – in our Core Values and in our mission to improve the lives of the Oregonians we serve. We all work toward a common goal, and we strive to work in a way that demonstrates our Core Values in action, especially the values of Respect and Service Equity.
For some of you, the holiday will be a day of service, part of the national initiative to make the holiday a “day on, not a day off” in order to promote the vision of Dr. King (see below). For others, the holiday is a time to reflect on his life and powerful words.
As you enjoy a long holiday weekend, please take the opportunity to consider the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. -- and, as you do so, I encourage you to make a personal recommitment to follow his example -- not just in words, but in action.
For those of you in the Salem area -- the Office of Equity and Multicultural Services (OEMS), in partnership with the Diversity and Equity Advisory Committee (DEAC), is hosting an event at the Human Services Building in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on January 21, 2015 during the lunch hour. We encourage you to attend! The event features poetry and music celebrating the life and teachings of Dr. King, and the opportunity to share messages. Please see the event poster for details. In addition to the event, OEMS and DEAC are also sponsoring the Act of Service Challenge during which staff are encouraged to consider volunteer their time to conduct an act of service in their community. Local DEAC members are assisting in the tracking and the total number of hours statewide will be shared in a future message from DEAC.