January 15, 2016
Dear members of the SMU community:
Welcome to the start of a new semester. It’s always meaningful to begin the year with SMU Dream Week, when we as a community honor the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This year is special because it marks a significant anniversary in SMU history.
Fifty years ago – on the afternoon of March 17, 1966 – Dr. King spoke at McFarlin Auditorium to more than 2,700 students, faculty, staff and trustees. Dr. King, who had been invited by student leaders, spoke for nearly an hour about the civil rights movement, his philosophy of nonviolence and the need for more people to get involved. You can read the speech and listen to a recording at smu.edu/mlkspeech.
Today SMU is presenting a bound transcript of the speech to the Dallas Civil Rights Museum at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center. We are honored for this historic speech at SMU to be part of the museum and available to its visitors.
I hope you are able to take part in Dream Week programs and events. On Monday morning, SMU is participating in Dallas’ Martin Luther King, Jr. parade, and all campus community members are invited to attend the celebration near Fair Park. Parade information and directions are online. Also on Monday, more than 170 students, faculty and staff will volunteer at a number of North Texas organizations as part of MLK Day of Service. On Wednesday, all campus community members are invited to meet in the Hughes-Trigg Commons at noon for our annual Unity Walk on the Boulevard. At 5:30 that evening, a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, Alicia Garza, will speak at Hughes-Trigg Student Center.
Thank you to the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs for sponsoring Dream Week, to the Community Engagement and Leadership Center for its support of the MLK Day of Service and to the students and others who are involved in these programs.
I am grateful to the many campus community members who have been participating in important conversations about diversity and inclusiveness. During the fall semester, students, alumni and others shared their perspectives, concerns and personal experiences. This spring, groups on campus will continue to meet, examine SMU programs and explore proposals that have been offered to promote a more welcoming, thoughtful and inclusive campus environment, both inside and outside the classroom, for all SMU students. Thank you for continuing these conversations.
I wish you the best in 2016 and a fulfilling, productive semester.
R. Gerald Turner