Today is Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) day in the United States. United Airlines’ CEO Oscar Munoz penned a fitting tribute to the late civil rights leader.
Here’s his note to employees shared by a FA friend:
In 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s heroic life was tragically cut short. Yet, 50 years later, his legacy endures. His voice still rings loud and clear in our ears, commanding us to rise above past divisions and continue our journey up the mountaintop; a north star to guide us toward a future of greater justice, equality and opportunity.
Observing this important day as an official company holiday reflects a deeper, long-standing commitment that the United family has maintained to the values Dr. King dedicated his life to: diversity and inclusion and acceptance, a widening of our moral horizons and the deepening of our empathy.
In one of his most famous addresses, he spoke of how, in the modern age, we are connected to the farthest corners of Earth and to the people in them in so many ways – by our travel, in the products we use and in our reliance upon one another. We are indeed, as he said, “caught up in an inescapable network of mutuality.”
Certainly a global airline such as United could not exist but for precisely this unifying aspect of our shared existence. In fact, we’re proud to have played such a central role over many decades in bringing people around the world into closer conversation. Our stated shared purpose – our very reason for being in the first place – is to connect people and help unite the world.
For all 90,000 of us in the United family – as diverse as the communities we serve around the world – fulfilling that unifying purpose is our pride and privilege.
As the United family pays tribute to Dr. King’s memory this January, I hope we come to understand as a people that we have more to learn from the voices of the past that called for peace, not prejudice. Let’s take this special occasion as an opportunity to rededicate ourselves to following his example and pushing the world a fraction further toward resembling the “Dream” MLK spoke of on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
I am confident that United, by fulfilling our mission to serve and connect people, can help us move toward that brighter future.
And I thank you for all that you do to make that future a reality.
It is a well-written note and references a particularly poignant 1958 King speech addressing Morehouse College entitled, “Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution.” I encourage you to take a few minute to read that speech in its entirety.
I also encourage you read King’s famous Letter from a Birmingham Jail which eloquently defends the strategy of nonviolent resistance.
Let us, this day and every day, strive to judge others not based upon the color of their skin, but upon the content of their character.