Skip to main content

In Commemoration of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day

By January 18, 2022No Comments

Hello Graham Community,

When I was in sixth grade, I had to do a recitation for my American History class. I chose to do a segment from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail, which he had written over a decade earlier in 1963 to white clergypersons, while incarcerated for a non-violent anti-segregation demonstration. I selected the portion of the letter that describes why he found it difficult to prolong the activity of the civil rights movement. There were a few reasons why I chose to recite that segment of the letter. I thought it was a powerful rally to them for their support of a non-violent civil rights movement. Even as an 11-year-old, I was able to discern the urgency of the times and Rev. Dr. King’s resolve to advance a movement that was picking up momentum.

Today, on the commemoration of Rev. Dr. King’s 93rd birthday, I believe that we are living in times like those and I am reminded of that famous letter. There is an imperative for change and the momentum is mounting. Particularly, it causes me to think about Graham’s commitment to “change biased systems and fight inequity” and, the “work to change community conditions that currently lead to family crises and make tangible progress in dismantling racist policies and practices in systems that impact children and families.”  The challenges that our children, families, and community have experienced during this pandemic magnify the oppressive conditions and inequities that existed prior and cannot be overlooked as we emerge into a post-pandemic era.  58 years ago, Rev. Dr. King understood that deep change required radical action that could not wait. He wrote:

“For years now I have heard the word ‘Wait!’ It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This ‘Wait’ has almost always meant ‘Never.’ We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that ‘justice too long delayed is justice denied.’”

As Graham marches out Vision 2025, we invoke Rev. Dr. King’s wisdom as imparted in his letter. We agree that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” and know that “we are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.”  As OneGraham, we will continue to push against the systems and structures that impede progress for our kids and families and that block their access to the opportunities that usher them toward progress. For sure, when they do not succeed, we all lose. The point that Rev. Dr. King was making to those clergypersons decades ago is still valid today: “Whatever affects one directly, affects all…” We can feel the urgency in this moment, much as he did back then. Our kids and families deserve our advocacy and energy in making the radical change that is long overdue. The time is now and waiting is not an option!


Kimberly Watson
President & CEO