Martin Luther King Jr. has influenced generations with messages of unity, peace and understanding between individuals.
Given his recent holiday and Black History Month beginning in February, Whitley Hadley, director of MOSAIC and the LGBTQ+ Resource Center, addressed the impact King has had on them, as well as what students at UCCS can learn from King’s vision.
“The legacy of Dr. King means never compromising for injustice, and operating with integrity and deliberation,” Hadley said. “Dr. King was well revered because he was deliberate with his words, worked with the community to create systemic change and was still able to model joy as movement building.”
Hadley shared what the legacy of King meant personally to them, celebrating that unity can tear down barriers of injustice. “The personal impact on me is continuing to combat the individualism that is nourished in a capitalistic society, and instead striving for liberation through community,” they said.
“When we’re able to find unity in our struggle and solidarity as integral to the vision, systemic change is possible anywhere,” Hadley said. This unity has a tangible impact on students at UCCS.
According to Hadley, the unity that is found in helping others and working for justice can be achieved by everyone. “It’s easy to become discouraged and think ‘what can I do to actually change anything?’” they said.
“But when you really study Dr. King’s work, you come to learn that everyone plays a part in social movements,” they said, listing community support ideas such as, “helping everyone stay fed and watching activists’ lil kiddos, posting flyers in your community, delivering speeches, giving elders rides to appointments or contributing to the scholarship that disrupts inaccurate misinformation and addresses inequities.”
“Everyone plays a part in a community. That’s what makes it beautiful, successful and strong,” Hadley said.
One of the most central themes of King’s message is his belief in nonviolent movements. In order for this harmonious outcome to occur, Hadley says we must be willing to understand that we have the power to create justice and encourage people to work together. “Once we see one community’s struggle as intertwined with our own, true collective, equitable change is possible,” Hadley.
One of Hadley’s favorite King quotes reflects the capability every individual has, no matter their achievements or abilities, to make a positive change and to serve others in their community.
“Everybody can be great … because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love,” King said.