On MLK Day, a call to ‘be aspirational in the causes for which you choose to advocate’

Read Elon Law Dean Luke Bierman's message to students, faculty, and staff on January 18, 2021, a holiday set aside to commemorate the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and his work to ensure equal justice for all people.

Luke Bierman, dean of Elon University School of Law

Students and colleagues:

As we pause to commemorate the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and as we prepare to inaugurate our next American president on Wednesday, I am reminded again of the important contributions we make to our nation as lawyers and future lawyers.

There has been no shortage of strife and anxiety and fear over the past year as our country navigates a disheartening era of distrust, whether that be distrust of expertise or distrust of institutions or distrust of difference. To that end, what you are doing in your legal studies and in your teaching and in your scholarship and in your work at Elon Law is critical to helping our neighbors and friends and loved ones begin to repair frayed relationships with each other and, for many, frayed relationships with facts and truth. This will be a lifelong project. If there is one thing history has taught us, it is that progress is not linear, and it certainly is not easy. To quote Dr. King, himself inspired by the 19th century abolitionist minister Theodore Parker: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

Reflect today on what you are learning and what you are teaching and consider one other idea that Dr. King brought to our attention. “Any law that uplifts human personality is just,” he wrote in his famous “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” “Any law that degrades human personality is unjust.” Be inspired by Dr. King’s work and be on guard for those laws that degrade human personality. Then be a force to right the wrongs inflicted by those laws. Be aspirational in the causes for which you choose to advocate. It is what Dr. King asked of us.

We are by no means a perfect nation. The words of our Constitution, however, call for us “to form a more perfect Union.” Never stop in that quest. I can think of no better way to use our privileges at Elon Law in pursuit of a healing so desperately needed in our country.

Dean Bierman

Luke Bierman
Dean and Professor of Law