YWCA USA Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Legacy

Dr. Dorothy Height in attendance at the March on Washington representing YWCA and leading change as the only woman leader on the platform as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivers his “I have a Dream” Speech, August 28, 1963.

Photo Credit: Associated Press
Dear YWCA Leaders,


Martin Luther King Jr. Day is just around the corner, and it presents such an important opportunity to reflect on America’s history and the struggle for racial justice as well as to assess where we are as a society and as an organization dedicated to ensuring justice and equity for all. One of my goals for this year is to dive more into our YWCA history to uplift it and to learn from it — the successes we’ve had as well as the times that we’ve missed the mark — so that we can continue striving toward justice in our communities. Recently, the YWCA USA team was thrilled to discover, in YWCA’s Smith College archives, an article written by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. himself in the December 1960 edition of the YWCA Magazine. Entitled “The Rising Tide of Racial Consciousness”, his piece was adapted from an address he gave at a convening of the National Urban League at the height of the Civil Rights Movement.


The eloquence and booming veracity of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s written words jump off the pages with the same strength he demonstrated in public, and they reverberate just as powerfully today: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Therefore, no American can afford to be apathetic about the problem of racial justice.” That is why, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we are proudly rereleasing Dr. King’s December 1960 article as we celebrate the critical role of Dr. King and other changemakers in the movement for racial justice. Here is a link to where you can access the PDF of the article. Please feel free to include this in your marketing plans for that day as you see fit.


I would be remiss to not also take a moment to recognize the work and leadership of Dr. Dorothy Height, YWCA USA’s very first Director of Racial Justice. The powerful image above is a reminder of Dr. Height’s leadership, the critical role she played at the intersection of race and gender, and that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. regarded the National Urban League and YWCA USA as critical partners in the movement for racial justice. This is our history, and it makes me proud that YWCA USA shared in such a powerful partnership and that we are continuing to carry on the legacy of racial justice. In the words of Dr. Height: “If the times aren’t ripe, you have to ripen the times. We have to realize we are building a movement.”


Keeping her words in mind, I want to take this opportunity to give an update on this year’s Until Justice Just Is campaign. Registration for this year’s campaign will launch officially on January 30, and the theme for this year is Advancing Justice: Ensuring Equity for All. The 2023 YWCA Racial Justice Challenge, which will coincide with the Until Justice Just Is campaign, will take place from April 17 – May 15 and will focus on the following four topic areas:


Mental Health

I am excited to work in lockstep with each of you as One YWCA, working in community, in solidarity, and in reciprocity with one another as we build a movement toward justice… until justice just is.


In Solidarity,

Margaret Mitchell


Subscribe to our Newsletter!

* indicates required

*Our use of “girls” and “women” is inclusive of all cis and trans women, non-binary, gender non-conforming, gender queer, and any female-identified folks.