January 17, 2022 at 7:25 a.m.

In Honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Dear CSSW Community,

As we reflect on Dr. Martin Luther King’s organizing, we are reminded of his belief that one of the cornerstones for fighting racial inequity is eradicating poverty.

In his Nobel Peace Prize Lecture in 1964, Dr. King said that we have a moral obligation to help those who are impoverished: “It is obvious that if man is to redeem his spiritual and moral ‘lag,’ he must go all out to bridge the social and economic gulf between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ of the world.”

And we still need to do more. Social work offers the opportunity to do just that – through policymaking, advocacy, and community organizing.

In America, Black people are still over-represented in poverty. And lower-income neighborhoods continue to lack adequate infrastructure and proper affordable housing. For instance, all of the victims who perished in the recent tragic fire in the Bronx were Black. And while officials suspect that the fire was started by a faulty space heater, it makes us wonder – would that family have needed a space heater if they were receiving adequate heat? It’s not the first time we’ve had to ask this question in communities of color in NYC. We fear it won’t be the last.

MLK Day is the only federal holiday that is designated as a national day of service. Let us honor the spirit of the day and Dr. King’s legacy by reaffirming our commitment to fighting for racial, social, economic, and environmental justice in all our communities.

In community,

Melissa Begg

Dean & Professor

Karma Lowe

Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and Community Engagement