“It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment.”
These words were spoken by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963. But as we reflect on the enormity of the challenge ahead of us to answer this call and dismantle systemic racism, we are sad and frustrated that the urgency of the moment has been passed over by our nation for decades, as well as the centuries before these words were even spoken.
The anniversary of King’s speech should have been celebrating progress, but instead it punctuated the end of yet another week of violence against the Black community. A week when many of us looked at each other and again asked, “What’s it going to take to make a change?”
We’ve been asking ourselves that question a lot lately.
Racial and economic inequities are more glaring than ever. We have seen how the economic and health impacts of COVID-19 have hit communities of color disproportionately harder than the rest of the Commonwealth. We know the underlying conditions that have caused these disparities – low-wage jobs, crowded housing and more social determinants — have racial injustice and discrimination at their root.
It is for these reasons that I was called to lead United Way and I commit to putting the issue of racial equity even more at the forefront of our work.
Our communities need us more than ever. We pledge to listen and challenge ourselves to take actions that reflect the urgency of this moment. We will not let it go by unanswered again.