Letter from VP-CODE (January 2017 Edition of Our Grounds: Dimensions of Diversity)

Mon, 01/09/2017 - 11:55 -- mes3xg


Greetings, Friends,


I hope the 2016 holiday season was very memorable and the winter break was rejuvenating.    


The spring semester and the annual Community Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration are quickly approaching.  Over the past six years, we’ve had the privilege of welcoming many compelling speakers – including Donna Brazile, Harry Belafonte, Michael Eric Dyson, and Ta-Nehisi Coates – to UVA.  During that time, over 150 events have been planned to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. King, covering a range of themes such as “Giving Voice,” “Arc of Justice,” “Looking Back, Moving Forward,” and “The Call to Higher Ground.”  Our theme for 2017 is “Silence as Betrayal.”  In 1967, speaking out against the war in Vietnam, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stated, “A time comes when silence is betrayal.”  Unfortunately, silent betrayal persists today when we choose not to speak out or to act against various social injustices. This passive posture betrays the humanity of our fellow citizens.  There comes a time when we are faced with doing what is right instead of what is comfortable. King’s words are as relevant today as they were fifty years ago: “We are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty; but we must move on.”


The 2017 Community MLK Celebration will begin on January 16th with the Medical Center Interfaith Service honoring the life and work of Dr. King.  With more than fifteen events planned over two weeks, students, faculty, staff, and members of the greater community will have many opportunities to hear from talented speakers, participate in discussions, and commemorate the legacy of Dr. King.  On January 26th, Anita Hill, University Professor of Social Policy, Law, and Women’s Studies at Brandeis University, will deliver the keynote address at the Paramount Theater. Her address is titled “Reimagining Equality: Inclusive Communities in Post Obama America.”   Professor Hill is a leader in both the civil rights and women’s rights movements and an expert on the complex and often challenging issues of race, gender, and workplace discrimination in America. In 1991, Hill made sexual harassment in the workplace a national issue when she testified that Supreme Court Justice nominee Clarence Thomas had committed sexual harassment against her.


Other compelling speakers include Dahlia Lithwick, Senior Editor at Slate;  Russell Jones, trauma psychology specialist and Professor of Psychology at Virginia Tech University; Larycia Hawkins, visiting faculty fellow at UVA’s Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture and former professor at Wheaton College; Dalia Mogahed, Director of Research at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding; Maurice Wallace, Professor, English Department and Associate Director African American and African Studies, Carter G. Woodson Institute, University of Virginia;  Blake Morant, Dean of the George Washington School of Law; and Tyrell Starr, national political correspondent.  More information about our speakers and additional events for the 2017 Community MLK Celebration can be found online at http://mlk.virginia.edu/events.  All events are free and open to the public; however, some events require registration. 


In addition to the tremendous speakers, performances, and discussions planned for this year’s celebration, I would like to draw your attention to the UVA Memorial to Enslaved Laborers Public Forum.  All are invited to attend this community forum at the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center on January 23 from 6:00 – 8:00pm.  Attendees will learn more about how the University of Virginia will produce the memorial, meet the design team, and be asked to offer their own ideas and feedback about the memorial.


Later this semester, the 7th John T. Casteen, III Diversity – Equity – Inclusion Leadership Award will be presented to a member of the UVA community who best demonstrates a dedication to leadership and a deep commitment to increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion at the University and in the community.  Any member of the University community (student, faculty, or staff) is eligible for nomination, according to the criteria. In addition to the nomination form, the committee requires a letter describing how the nominee has exemplified the award-related criteria and three additional letters of support (one of which must be from outside the nominee's department or school).  Nominations are due by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, March 3, 2017. Your support of the 2017 Community MLK Celebration and John T. Casteen, III Diversity –Equity- Inclusion Leadership Award is very much appreciated.


Best wishes to all for a healthy, happy, and productive 2017.


Marcus L. Martin, M.D.

Vice President and Chief Officer for Diversity and Equity

Professor of Emergency Medicine


CORRECTION: The September issue stated that the School of Medicine received the Health Professions HEED Award for the second year in a row.  The School of Medicine has received the award four years in a row.