The National Day of Racial Healing, which is observed every Tuesday after Martin Luther King Jr. Day, began in 2017 from an effort led by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Since then, it has been increasingly adopted and celebrated by communities around the country as a chance to come together around our shared human experience and build the cross-cultural relationships that lead to a more equitable society. Some groups celebrate with events, activities or by educational materials designed to bring people together.
For this year’s National Day of Racial Healing and in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we wanted to reflect on some of Dr. King’s most famous quotes about equality and justice to discuss how the ethos applies directly in our workplaces to improve culture and help create a more equitable work environment for all.
Dr. King Quotes:
–1957: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'”
–1959: “Make a career of humanity. Commit yourself to the noble struggle for equal rights. You will make a better person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in.”
–1963: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
–1963: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
It can be common to come across subtle and overt acts of injustice in the workplace; many people have seen their peers be overlooked or treated unfairly for any number of reasons. While you may think it doesn’t affect you directly, the lesson to take from Dr. King and the spirit of National Day of Racial Healing is that we are interconnected. And it isn’t just about racial equity—prejudice comes in all forms—religion, gender, sexuality, physical ability and more.
If one person can be treated poorly for any of these attributes, then the entire workplace is at risk of a pervasive toxic culture.
To make a work environment welcoming to all colleagues, employees should advocate for regular trainings. These trainings can be focused on interactions such as how to provide feedback appropriately and identifying forms of prejudice or unconscious bias. Organizations can also implement activities that help everyone build sustained relationships such as mentorship and sponsorship, which is shown to help close the discrimination gap. Through continuous encouragement and learnings, an inclusive and just environment can be created anywhere.
For extra reading about the National Day of Racial Healing, check out this interview with La June Montgomery Tabron, the first woman and first Black president and chief executive of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. She spoke with The Guardian about achieving racial equity in the workplace.
RALIANCE is a trusted adviser for organizations committed to building cultures that are safe, equitable, and respectful. RALIANCE offers unparalleled expertise in serving survivors of sexual harassment, misconduct, and abuse which drives our mission to help organizations across sectors create inclusive environments for all. For more information, please visit www.RALIANCE.org.