MLK Day 2021: Turning Hope into Action

In April of 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” a response to the clergymen who had criticized his demonstrations against segregation that resulted in his imprisonment. Just four months later, on August 28, 1963, King delivered the speech heard around the world, providing his vision of our future—a dream where all people are equal and evaluated on the content of character and never on the color of their skin.

Every year, we remember King and his compelling vision, and this year it feels more important than ever. As our CEO Francis deSouza wrote last summer in the wake of George Floyd’s death, “we must confront ignorance with knowledge, hatred with love, and complacency with action for equality.”

King spoke on similar topics from that Birmingham jail cell almost 60 years ago. In his letter, he instructed us not only on the imperative to move forward but how to move forward, and he very clearly reminded us that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

So how can we all play a part in realizing King’s dream? We identify what needs to be changed and work on it together. We reflect, we serve, we think about how we can make a difference. To show our commitment to this work and recognize King’s contributions, Illumina offers Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a paid company holiday for our US employees. We have also curated a list of resources for employees and their families to honor King by having conversations, virtually volunteering and donating to organizations that support the spirit of King’s vision and are applicable for a company match. Giving back is in our DNA at Illumina—in celebration of all that King hoped for, this special day allows us the opportunity to give back and turn that hope into action.