The Arc of the Moral Universe

Dear SEO Family member,

For the last few years, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I have reflected on Dr. King’s legacy and the inspiration that has always served for SEO. You may know that Dr. King and the civil rights movement inspired Michael Osheowitz to found SEO in 1963.  Almost 60 years later, SEO’s efforts continue towards a more equitable society.

You are likely familiar with Dr. King’s famous reflection on equality: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” This is an inspiring and optimistic vision for the future. However, it is very easy to misinterpret his sentiment.

In 2016, former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder shared an important perspective on this quote: “The arc only bends toward justice because people pull it towards justice. It doesn’t happen on its own.” Equality and justice are not preordained.

In 2020, we saw the critical importance of continuing to actively work towards justice. Persistent inequalities included the stark, disparate impact of COVID, along with the racism and unjust murders leading to the needed Black Lives Matter protests. And the events leading to the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol show that powerful forces are determined to disenfranchise some voters. Only by remaining vigilant in standing up for justice will we preserve and build on the hard-fought gains of the many generations before us.

The vigilance we’ve seen this past year is what gives me hope and optimism. Within SEO, there is a community that is working relentlessly towards a vision of equality and justice. A community that includes a deeply committed and passionate SEO team and board; unwavering support of our partners and donors; and the indomitable spirit of our SEO participants.

Yes, the arc bends towards justice, and our work together is an essential part of bending it to ensure that America’s opportunity and promise is available to all.

Best wishes,

William Goodloe
President & CEO, SEO