A Racial Equity Summit to Commemorate Dr. King
On January 18, 2021, City Year San José/Silicon Valley celebrated the 35th national Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday by organizing our first “MLK Beloved Community Summit”, a virtual half-day gathering of community leaders, educators, philanthropists, corporate leaders, and advocates for crucial conversations on advancing racial justice and equity. Our event’s call-to-action is that to commemorate the life and legacy of Dr. King takes more than words and goodwill; this work requires urgent and thoughtful action to address the persisting issues Dr. King spoke of nearly 53 years ago.
Over 300 attendees from across the U.S. listened to and engaged with 33 Bay Area and national leaders from the education, nonprofit, philanthropy, and business sectors. A few of the sessions included “How Do We Advance Justice and Equity in Education”, “How Do We Support Nonprofits Serving Communities of Color?”, and “Leadership That Creates a Culture of Belonging”. In eight panel sessions, our speakers shared hard truths and emphasized the need for action:
“To improve and have equitable outcomes for students, we have to engage in conversation. We have to engage deliberately and take steps towards action…we have to do it in community and in relationship [with others].”
– Dr. Mary Ann Dewan, County Superintendent, Santa Clara County Office of Education
“I am challenging everyone to do something different…engage with your African-American community, find those leaders, and bring them to the table. Treat them as true partners that you are going to invest in because they are the bridge from us to the community. That’s who the community trusts.”
– Andre Chapman, Founder & CEO of Unity Care
Let’s just look at the numbers…the percentage of CEOs in Fortune 500 companies that are Latin[X] or African-American in each category is less than 3%. We’ve all known that [diversity] is the right thing to do for decades, so why are we at 3%?…this is why we show [in our book] why [diversity] is the right business thing to do, as well as, the right thing to do.”
– Jorge Titinger, Former CEO and President, Silicon Valley Graphics
Advancing Racial Equity in Practice
We hope that MLK Beloved Community Summit called in our community, including us at City Year, to work toward racial equity as both an outcome and a process.
To achieve racial equity as an outcome, everyone has what they need to thrive, no matter their racial identity. We hold steady to this goal, yet the work of racial equity is in the daily details – the questions we must ask ourselves are:
- Am I listening to those most impacted by systemic racism?
- Do I involve those most impacted by systemic racism in creating and implementing policies and practices that affect their lives?
We know from experience that answering those questions honestly and translating them into action is not easy at City Year. Our anti-racist and equity work as an organization is ongoing and still not where we need it to be. Yet, we will stay committed to our imperfect journey to center racial equity in all we do because real people are impacted by what we do (and often what we don’t do).
Will you, members of our shared community, stay committed to advancing racial equity in the long-term with us?
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