Contributed by Carlos Smith, D.D.S., M.Div., director of diversity, equity and inclusion and the ethics curriculum and associate professor at VCU School of Dentistry

Martin Luther King Jr. Day – Jan. 17

A celebrated humanitarian, civil rights activist, freedom fighter and advocate for nonviolent social change, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his mission-minded legacy presents us annually with a great opportunity to examine ourselves and explore how we can be better and do more for this world, particularly for the least among us. As we continue to combat COVID-19 and its various variants – still exacerbating the myriad of global health inequities and disparities – let us stand in the tradition of what Dr. King noted as a “beloved community” doing our part to ensure all people are valued, respected and treated with dignity.

VCU’s Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration 2022’s theme, “Peace is not simply the absence of conflict, but the existence of justice for all people,” serves as an excellent opportunity to celebrate Dr. King and discover how each of us can advance his never-ending work. The week kicks off Jan. 16 at 3 p.m. with a performance at Grace Street Theatre by The Conciliation Lab about Dr. King’s lesser-known works written by The Conciliation Lab’s Co-Artistic Director Tawnya Pettiford-Wates, Ph.D. Afterward, a dialogue between attendees will be facilitated by Archana Pathak, Ph.D., who serves as the special assistant for programs and initiatives in the Office of Institutional Equity, Effectiveness and Success.

Together, we work to uphold Dr. King’s legacy through education and actions that advance humanity. A series of other events are planned, and a full schedule, including community events, can be found on the MLK Celebration 2022 site at

National Day of Racial Healing – Jan. 18

Flyer image promoting National Day of Racial Healing for the Oral Health Community event.

What is Racial Healing?

Racial healing is a process that restores individuals and communities to wholeness, repairs the damage caused by racism and transforms societal structures into ones that affirm the inherent value of all people. It makes it possible to acknowledge and speak the truth about past wrongs created by individual and systemic racism and to address present-day consequences for people, communities and institutions.

Racial healing can facilitate trust and build authentic relationships that bridge divides created by real and perceived differences. We believe it is essential to pursue racial healing prior to making change in a community. Because, before you can transform systems and structures, you must start with people first.

Join us virtually on Tuesday, Jan. 18 at 12 p.m. EST as we celebrate the 2022 National Day of Racial Healing For the Oral Health Community with the American Institute of Dental Public Health, the Oral Health Progress and Equity Network, the American Association of Public Health Dentistry and the American Public Health Association Oral Health Section. For more information and to register, click here.

Categories Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Schoolwide News