Created with Sketch.

January 15, 2024

Reflections on Martin Luther King Jr Day by MSM President James Gandre

Dear MSM Community:

“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or the darkness of destructive selfishness. This is the judgment. Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?”

“The greatest sin of our time is not the few who have been destroyed, but the vast majority who’ve sat idly by….”

The two quotes above are from Dr. King and they hang on the wall in my office. I have them there to repeatedly remind myself of my obligation to my country and the MSM community.

America will not be defeated by those who would like to stop the march toward freedom, inclusion, and justice. We will continue to march toward the goal of a more perfect Union where we celebrate and rejoice in the diversity of our people and the metaphorical, robust, and beautiful mosaic that has made and continues to make this country so great.

Today we reflect on the profound impact of the influential civil rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. King dedicated his life to advocating for racial equality and justice. His iconic “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered during the March on Washington in 1963, remains a powerful symbol of the ongoing struggle for civil rights. Martin Luther King Jr. Day (MLK Day), celebrated annually on the third Monday of January, honors the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr.

MLK Day stands as a reminder of the historical and ongoing fight against discrimination and inequality, particularly for African Americans. The Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s marked a transformative period in American history with abolishing Jim Crow laws, and the passing of both the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Of course, systemic racism continues to affect African Americans and other minority communities and the march toward a more equitable and just society is sadly ongoing.

All of us at MSM play a role in building a more inclusive society. To live Dr. King’s vision and MSM’s own aspirations, we must both recognize, embrace, and cherish the incredibly diverse identities that make up our student body, faculty, and staff who hail from more than 50 countries and nearly every US state. In doing so, each of us and MSM more broadly becomes stronger and better individually and collectively. Let us strive to build a world where the principles Martin Luther King Jr. espoused are championed and become a reality.

Dr. King’s wife, Coretta Scott King (interestingly, a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music), wanted to ensure his legacy and fought to have his birthday designated as a national holiday. She wrote that the holiday should be not just for remembrance but should be, “…a day of reflection, a day of teaching nonviolent philosophy and strategy, a day for getting involved in nonviolent action for societal and economic justice…”.

Please take a moment today to remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., an American who managed to do truly extraordinary things for African Americans and this country – and think about your commitments and the role you want to play in the world for the betterment of all.

To that end, below are three compositions by MSM alumni that honor Dr. King and his legacy and that speak to and celebrate this day and his life’s work:

If you’d like to continue your own learning, here are a few resources that you can explore to learn more about Martin Luther King Jr.:

  • “The Autobiography of Martin Luther King Jr.” by Clayborne Carson
  • “Martin Luther King: The Inconvenient Hero” by Vincent Harding
  • “Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference” by David J. Garrow
  • “Eyes on the Prize” (PBS documentary series covering the civil rights movement)
  • “King: A Filmed Record… Montgomery to Memphis” (documentary film)
  • Stanford University’s Martin Luther King Jr. Papers Project (
  • National Civil Rights Museum (

As Dr. King said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” It is a new year. It is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Let us all do what we can to accelerate that inevitability in 2024.

To all our Community, I send best wishes for a wonderful MLK Day!

MSM President James Gandre

    Email This Page

    Email Message

    Page Reference
    (will be sent in email)