On behalf of the Duke community, I am honored to welcome you to Duke Chapel for this commemoration of the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In the rhythms of the university calendar, this important event is perhaps unique, in that it is both a solemn and celebratory occasion—celebratory because we mark the progress made toward Dr. King’s noble goals, and solemn because we mourn his loss and the long and challenging road ahead.

In that spirit, I have been reflecting on this year’s theme—Dr. King’s notion that tomorrow is today, that we should be inspired to action by the fierce urgency of now.

To be sure, our now has perhaps never been more fierce or more urgent—amidst a global pandemic that is disproportionately impacting communities of color and a parallel pandemic of racism and violence across our country.

In the face of these circumstances, we must take action today—inspired by Dr. King’s profound words—to build a better tomorrow. We are committed to doing this work at Duke, to making anti-racism a core priority at every level of our university and providing leadership and compassion to our neighbors.

As we gather for this solemn celebration, may we remember that the work that Dr. King undertook half a century ago has still only just begun—and while the road ahead may be long, we are walking it together toward a better tomorrow.

Thank you.