Letters to the UMB Community

Reflecting on the Legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

January 17, 2022

Dear UMB Community, 

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’ ” — Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Today, as we honor the life and legacy of Dr. King, the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) reflects on the question he posed as we seek to improve the human condition and serve the public good of Maryland and society at-large through education, research, clinical care, and service. We must keep at the forefront how our actions impact those around us and how we might more actively live out our values as a university. What are we doing — individually and collectively — for others? How are we advancing the causes of justice and equality for which Dr. King stood?

The COVID-19 pandemic and our ongoing social challenges continue to remind us of how our lives and actions are interrelated and how much work we still have to do to address racism, injustice, and oppression. UMB remains steadfast in our commitment to this important work. As an anchor institution in West Baltimore, we remain committed to our community's well-being and work to leverage the economic power of this big university to benefit the community, help wealth grow, and promote health equity. We also have to address issues of structural racism and inequality directly through educational programs, with our community engagement work, and in our academic pursuits.

Dr. King also spoke of the “fierce urgency of now” and the importance of not giving in to complacency and apathy. Although so much of what we do serves others and advances justice and equity, there is still much more we can do. UMB must be unafraid to confront what might be uncomfortable or inconvenient, to speak up for what is right, and to work for justice — this Martin Luther King Jr. Day and every day.


Bruce E. Jarrell, MD, FACS


Diane Forbes Berthoud, PhD, MA

Chief Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Officer and Vice President


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