January 18, 2021
Dear Interlochen community,
Today we honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with the only federal holiday dedicated to the memory of a civil rights leader. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is also unique because it asks us to dedicate ourselves to the betterment of our communities.
As I write this, our country grapples with disturbing images of violence overtaking the U.S. Capitol. The sight of a man carrying the Confederate flag through its hallowed halls starkly reminds us of the persistence of racism more than 150 years after the Civil War. All the while, the pandemic continues to kill thousands of people every day, disproportionately impacting communities of color.
It was in another moment of darkness, during the struggles of the civil rights movement, when Dr. Martin Luther King suggested, "Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." Ultimately, he told us, love is "the only answer to mankind's problems." His words inspire me, and help me to see the light approaching in our future.
At Interlochen and across the country, we have made great progress toward the peaceful and productive diversity that Dr. King envisioned, but as recent events underscore, many challenges remain. If we are to build a truly inclusive and equitable community, each of us must do our part to raise awareness that discrimination of any kind hurts us all.
This Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I urge you to ask yourself how you can be a steward of light and love. As members of our Interlochen family, we have a unique opportunity to help our young citizen artists affect change. Ask yourself: What can I do to model kindness and create positive change? How can I help students make a difference through their art, talents, and beliefs? How can I help them enhance understanding, provide comfort, and relieve pain?
Your act of light and love may feel small or insignificant — after all, you are just one person. But if we each channel our creativity as a force for good every day, the ripples of our individual acts can stimulate waves of kindness and empathy. "Almost always," Dr. King said, "the creative dedicated minority has made the world better."
Inscribed on the back wall of Kresge Auditorium are words that have inspired generations of artists and educators before you: "Dedicated to the Promotion of World Friendship through the Universal Language of the Arts." Interlochen has always promoted friendship, inclusion, diversity, and peace.
A brighter future starts with each of us, today.
With hope and gratitude,