My time in college coincided with a tumultuous period of deep struggle and division in our nation, which carries some parallels to today. I began my undergraduate years not long after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The impact of his death on the nation, and on me personally, was enormous.

On Jan. 15, as we commemorate Dr. King’s life and contributions, the courageous way he lived provides inspiration and hope in the struggles we face today. Climate change, war, political divisiveness, injustice, and attacks on democracy – there is no shortage of worries to keep us up at night. In the face of these serious threats, it is important to remember why we do what we do at the University of California.

Fundamentally, the University of California is a hopeful enterprise. Through teaching, research, and public service, we are working together for the greater good – expanding opportunity and access to higher education, creating new knowledge, and bringing that knowledge out into the world to benefit communities everywhere. The work that UC staff, faculty, and students do every day is an investment in the future of our planet, and in each other.

As Dr. King put it so beautifully in a 1967 sermon, just months before he was murdered in Memphis, Tennessee: “We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly… affects all indirectly. We are made to live together because of the interrelated structure of reality.”

As we pause next week to remember Dr. King, let’s take heart in the network of mutuality that binds us, and together we can find our way through the difficulties of today.

Fiat Lux!

Michael V. Drake, M.D.
President, University of California