Dear VCFA Community, 

Today we pause to honor the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In inspiring and leading a national movement for equal rights and justice, Dr. King left behind a powerful legacy by grounding the movement in the opposing tensions of an unflinching critique of systemic injustices and racism with radical compassion. Actively continuing this legacy feels more urgent than ever as we reflect on our nation’s history, and the current reality mirrored so poignantly in the police brutality we witnessed this past summer and the recent violent insurrections by white supremacists against our government and the peaceful transfer of power.

Dr. King, an advocate of nonviolent direct action, understood the power of language and used poetic expression to educate and activate people from all walks of life in his mission to create lasting change. His eloquence was instrumental in bringing people to act energetically against the injustices inflicted on people in marginalized and disenfranchised communities. As artists we understand the power of creative self-expression to inspire possibility. VCFA recognizes in its mission the power of the arts to educate and move people to action—to not only reflect reality but to create it.

We believe we have an institutional responsibility to continue the work of Dr. King by providing space and opportunity for our community to engage in learning, and to build organizational capacity to lift and amplify all voices through the arts, especially those who have been historically marginalized, disenfranchised and underrepresented. We are constantly seeking to expand our impact within and beyond our MFA programs, and in that pursuit, we have established the Center for Arts and Social Justice at VCFA, whose mission is to inspire community-based change through the arts.

As you reflect on the legacy of Dr. King and the work that we need to do within our community, consider how you might leverage your voice, and forms of expression to support the vision expressed in our Statement on Community Values. And we invite you to enjoy this video expression of the statement produced by our MFA in Writing Program prior to their recent residency.

Throughout the week, you will receive additional communications from others at VCFA in a coordinated effort to encourage our community to stay in a space of reflection and learning.