This week’s post was written in collaboration with Dr. Aashir Nasim. In addition to being a professor and director of iCubed, Dr. Nasim is the Vice President for Inclusive Excellence. It is an honor to share this space with him.
There were five words articulated by the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., during the March on Washington that remain most prominent in our minds: “We can never be satisfied.”
If ever there was a mantra that characterizes the selfless and tireless work of the civil rights champions of the 1960s and the drum majors for justice of today, this is it. We can never be satisfied until each of us, our communities and our institutions, our states and our nation achieve the magnificent ideal of equality for all.
VCU, as one of the nation’s premier urban public research universities, has the unique responsibility of making certain we provide equal access and opportunity to all of our students, patients, and members of our faculty and staff. We are committed to a university culture that provides everyone the chance to lead enlightened, meaningful and productive lives. When that access is denied to some of us, then every one of us loses an opportunity for growth, learning and success.
The mantra of our civil rights champions and drum majors for justice also serves to define our university’s role in surrounding communities. As the region’s safety net hospital, we must strive to ensure that everyone, especially the Commonwealth’s children, receive high-quality and sustained care, regardless of their wealth status or zip code. When any patient, especially the most vulnerable among us, cannot access the care they need, then we can never be satisfied.
Our nation has made considerable progress toward civil rights, since Dr. King’s speech in the summer of 1963. And, we would be remiss to not acknowledge our role as an university in helping to close the gap in educational and health disparities across the Commonwealth during the past 180 years. Our university’s cultural, economic, and educational impact on the Commonwealth cannot be overstated.
Nonetheless, to suggest that we have done enough, or to suggest that we should be satisfied with our progress would be antithetical to our mission as an urban public research university—not to mention unrealistic. We can never be satisfied. And our hope is that each of you will continue to support our journey to achieve the ideal of equality for all.