All inhabitants of the globe are now neighbors.
--Martin Luther King, Jr. “The World House”
At this moment of distress and consternation, in the wake of President Trump’s executive order on immigration of last Friday, it is useful to turn to “The World House,” the final chapter of King’s last book, Where do we Go from Here: Chaos or Community? (1967). There King began by referencing the papers of a famous novelist, containing a list of possible plots for future stories. The most prominent on the list, King noted , was this: “A widely separated family inherits a house in which they have to live together.” He goes on to say, “This is the great new problem of mankind. We have inherited a large house, a great ‘world house’ in which we have to live together—black and white, Easterner and Westerner, Gentile and Jew, Catholic and Protestant, Moslem and Hindu—a family unduly separated in ideas, culture and interests, who, because we can never again live apart, must learn somehow to live with each other in peace.”
The Carter G. Woodson Institute for African American and African Studies affirms King’s statement, along with his famous axiom that “Together we must learn to live as brothers [and sisters] or together we will be forced to perish as fools.” We further affirm the moral and intellectual value of our commitment to diversity, tolerance, civility, and justice, both at the University of Virginia and around the world. As scholars, researchers, and teachers of race, ethnicity and culture across the African Diaspora, we have a special understanding of the wide variety of cultural, historical and religious experiences that make up and bind together the human family globally—and inextricably. For this reason, we denounce any policy or plan, whether at local, state or federal level, that bids to sever this connection, whether through word or deed. Therefore, as citizens of the Commonwealth and scholars of the university, we assert our commitment to the creation and cultivation of a just society where intolerance, injustice, prejudice, and hate will not prevail. We believe we are all the richer by that racial, ethnic, religious, and linguistic pluralism that has distinguished and sustained the American experiment since its founding.