BMCC Celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Dear BMCC Community,

Today, as we commemorate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we are reminded of his courage and the sacrifices he made to make our lives better. As an activist, community organizer, and visionary, he championed the causes of civil rights, social justice, and equality. He took the nation’s leaders to task and challenged the status quo.

Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered during the March on Washington, in 1963, evokes a profound emotional journey for many individuals. To some, the speech provides an opportunity to examine the life of a prominent figure in American history, for others, it speaks to how far we have come, but how much work still needs to be done. Yet for others, it serves as a poignant reminder of a life cut short due to ignorance and hatred.

While some argue that the speech primarily focuses on denouncing injustice and eradicating oppression, we often overlook other key messages. One of the most significant and fundamental ideas expressed in the speech is the importance of higher education and the indelible need for it to be accessible and equitable for everyone.

A prolific thinker and orator, Dr. King considered education a powerful tool that can help effect change and level the playing field. In his writings and speeches, he frequently emphasized the importance of education in advancing social mobility and moving the country forward. Dr. King firmly believed that denying marginalized people access to a fair and equal education stagnated their economic and personal growth, resulting in unemployment, low wages, inadequate housing, mass incarceration, and other conditions associated with poverty.

Dr. King’s efforts are not lost on us. We understand the power of education and its ability to change lives. Earning a college degree not only enables people to pursue more satisfying careers, it can also help lift their families out of poverty.

At BMCC, we are committed to raising the social and economic mobility of students. A 2020 Brookings Institution report ranked BMCC third among two-year colleges nationwide in raising low-income students into the middle class. We earned this recognition through initiatives that engage students with career exploration and support their transfer into bachelor’s degree programs. Recognizing that sustainable success can only be achieved through community collaboration, BMCC works with many prestigious colleges and universities. To date, BMCC has umbrella partnerships and articulation agreements with close to 75 institutions. Recent partnerships exist between BMCC and UAlbany, a premier R1 research university in upstate New York, and with  BMCC and Morehouse College, in Atlanta, one of the nation’s preeminent Black colleges, and the alma mater of esteemed leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We are also grateful to our funders, including Trinity Wall Street, the Robin Hood Foundation, and the many other organizations that help us provide support to non-traditional students, many of whom are single parents, housing-insecure, and have been impacted by the criminal justice system.

As we honor Dr. King’s life and legacy on this holiday and National Day of Service, let’s embrace it with a renewed sense of purpose by working towards creating a more just and equitable society, where we celebrate our differences, and everyone is valued and respected, regardless of their race, gender, religion, physical ability, or background.

Dr. King once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” What are we doing for those in our neighborhoods and communities who need our help? I pose these questions for all of us to ponder, especially now, at a time in our history when we are experiencing so much civil unrest and hate, and homelessness is at an all-time high.

Use today as an opportunity to reflect, refocus, and reenergize. Consider participating in community service projects and initiatives that reinvest in our neighborhoods, improve the lives of others, and create pathways for future generations to come.

Here are resources to learn about community service and volunteer opportunities available at CUNY and through our partnerships.

Together, we can help build bridges, heal wounds, and create lasting change that will benefit our communities for years to come. Remember, change starts here and begins with us.

Warmest regards,

Anthony E. Munroe signature

Anthony E. Munroe
President, Borough of Manhattan Community College