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Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr.

In April 1967, Martin Luther King, Jr. visited Stanford University. Speaking in Memorial Auditorium about working toward economic and social equality, Dr. King said, “Somewhere we must come to see that social progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and the persistent work of dedicated individuals.”

As we remember Martin Luther King, Jr. this weekend, I want to take this moment to recognize the tireless efforts and persistent work of the students, faculty and staff who are promoting social progress through research, education and service. This often unheralded work is deeply important to creating a more just world.

One dimension of furthering social progress is ensuring that Stanford itself provides a welcoming and supportive community for all. Under our long-range vision, we are working to amplify diversity and inclusion efforts across campus and advance our commitment to these values.

The presidential initiative for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access in a Learning Community (IDEAL) aims to foster an inclusive community, improve access to Stanford for a broad and diverse population, meet the needs of diverse learners and dedicate research to achieving these goals at Stanford and beyond. Making IDEAL central to our plans helps ensure that we will remain committed to its principles as we work toward realizing our vision for Stanford over the next decade and beyond.

One of the first actions we took following the announcement of Stanford’s long-range vision was to enhance support for our community centers, as well as for efforts to improve faculty diversity. The students and staff in our community centers do remarkable work to build community, promote an honest exchange of ideas and empower individuals through intellectual, cultural and leadership opportunities. We all have much to learn from the ways in which they foster understanding, empathy and honest dialogue.

Also central to these efforts is the Diversity and First-Gen Office, which provides a place of welcome for first generation and low-income college students and plays a central role in training students, staff and faculty across the university on issues of diversity, equity and identity. Our ethnic theme houses, which began 50 years ago, and our many vibrant, student-led organizations also add to the strength and richness of our community. I am deeply grateful for their presence here on campus.

Fifty-two years after he spoke at Stanford, Dr. King’s pursuit of social progress, his resistance to prejudice and his life of service continue to inspire our efforts to foster a welcoming and inclusive community on campus. As we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. King on Monday, I hope you will join me in reflecting on how we can further advance his principles of courage, truth, compassion and dignity at Stanford and beyond. These values lie at the heart of our mission to build and safeguard a community that promotes respect and understanding across our differences.

— Marc Tessier-Lavigne, President of Stanford University

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