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Remembering Dr. King

Dear Members of the Harvard Community,

In October 1962—six months before writing his historic letter from a Birmingham jail—Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. visited Harvard Law School and spoke on the topic of racial injustice. In a wide-ranging address, he cautioned against the inaction that both optimism and pessimism can beget, and he reminded his audience that “human progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability.” “The time,” he continued, “is always right to do right.”

Today, in recognition of the work that remains to create a more just society, I am honored to announce the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Lecture at Harvard University. Beginning this fall, our community will recognize and celebrate an individual who, through activism, advocacy, scholarship, or service, has helped to advance the work that inspired Dr. King to act and lead. The nomination period opens today, and I invite you to visit the Office for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging online for additional information.

Those of us who are privileged to work and learn at Harvard must model the behavior we want to see in the rest of the world. I hope you share my enthusiasm about creating a new way for Harvard to participate in a critical and ongoing national conversation about racial justice, equity, and opportunity. I look forward to gathering with you to welcome our inaugural King Commemorative Lecturer later this year.

All the best,