Message from Leadership — Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
On Monday, Jan. 17, 2022, we commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This observance is a time to remember and honor Dr. King’s legacy as a national leader in the fight for freedom, equality and civil rights. The lessons Dr. King taught us still ring true today as we work to create a more perfect union.
At FSIS, we are committed to the values of equity and inclusion rooted in justice and equal opportunity for our employees and those we serve. You can read more about our work to promote equal opportunity, civil rights and diversity in Food for Thought and Equal Employment Opportunity Advisory Committee (EEOAC) newsletters. You can also find resources and educational materials on FSIS’ Civil Rights webpage, USDA’s Equity webpage and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights website, to help familiarize yourself with many of the initiatives and efforts FSIS and USDA are leading in support of equity and inclusion.
Dr. King inspired action. This day is a national day of service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities. Think about how you can give back, how you can be a better neighbor, and what you can do to make your community and the global community better. Dr. King’s family wants Martin Luther King Jr. Day to be a “day on, not a day off” — to add value and offer support where it is needed most. Please think of ways you can have an impact, not only on Jan. 17, but every day.
We cannot thank you enough for the work you do to support the Agency mission, and for your commitment to protecting public health.
Deputy Under Secretary
Manifesting His Dream
By Felicia Thompson, OPACE
The words from Dr. Martin King Jr.’s 1963 “I Have A Dream” speech remind us of how far the nation has come. The observance of his work in January and the upcoming black (February) and women’s (March) history months elevate our awareness. These are times when we may have more discussions about topics like voting rights and civility. A major purpose of the almost 17-minute speech was to share Dr. King’s hope that people do right by each other.
Dr. King’s call for civil and economic rights and an end to racial discrimination did not end at the conclusion of his famous speech. He continued to press for change. He moved to Chicago and found racism in the North as well as South. He took up residence in a tenement to attract attention to the conditions of the poor and began a campaign to end discrimination in housing, schools and employment in that city. Dr. King was also preparing to march with the sanitation workers in Memphis, and kick off the Poor People’s Campaign in Washington, D.C. He believed in the possibility of what America could be.
Once consumed with the day-to-day functions of one’s job, it is easy to forget about those outside one’s circle. FSIS leadership consistently calls our attention to cultures and employees of many backgrounds through observances such as Dr. King’s birthday and the Special Emphasis Program (SEP) initiatives led by the FSIS Civil Rights Staff (CRS). SEP events provide an opportunity to learn about, and from, underrepresented groups through song, dance, storytelling, historical perspectives, scientific data, and displays of cultural artifacts. Many events are held virtually, with recordings later posted. Since all employees have access to an eDevice or computer, this makes it easier for all FSIS employees to experience the events. In the coming months, CRS will host programs about the American experience of blacks, women, and Asian-American/Pacific Islanders, to name a few. Keep monitoring the Food for Thought newsletter for event details. Many inspection teams and offices hold their own programs as observances and opportunities to share with their colleagues. View the FSIS Civil Rights Staff page and scroll down to “Special Emphasis Programs (SEP)” for more about groups designated for special emphasis and recordings of previous SEP events.
On Jan. 20 at 12 p.m. ET, Blacks in Government, USDA George Washington Carver Chapter, is hosting a presentation on the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Other African American Servant Leaders. Dr. Robin Roberts of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is the speaker. The presentation is part of the chapter's monthly general meeting. Join the meeting on their Teams Channel.
You are serving others and protecting the vulnerable in your own way, just as Dr. King did in his. Approximately 9,000 employees work as one team to complete one mission – protecting the food supply for more than 332 million Americans.