MLK Day: A day on, not a day off

January 13, 2017 | GET MORE : Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Share Article:

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn

U.S. Bank's diversity and inclusion head Greg Cunningham and other leaders reflect on Dr. King’s legacy of servant leadership

On Monday, January 16, we will once again celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King has always inspired me because he was the epitome of a servant leader. The celebration of his life is an opportunity to recommit myself to service and a reminder that "MLK Day" is a day on, not a day off.

This year, along with 20 other U.S. Bank employees, I'll be attending the MLK Holiday Breakfast celebration here in Minneapolis and then volunteering at the Second Harvest Food Shelf as part of HandsOn Twin Cities’ MLK Day activities.

Dr. King made us believe that tomorrow would be brighter. That our daily sacrifices are not in vain. That living a life in service of others is our true purpose. My favorite quote from Dr. King speaks to this directly: "Everybody can be great...because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love."

I've tried to model what I believe were some of his true leadership qualities. Never about control and command, Dr. King built people up and brought people together. He was the perfect combination of intellectual and emotional depth.

His legacy means many things to many people. This MLK Day, I asked some my colleagues at U.S. Bank what it means to them. Here's what they had to say:

To me, Dr. King is the triumph of an individual taking risk to do the right thing, put people first, power potential, stay a step ahead and draw strength from diversity. He put others before himself, and expected us all to be better than we expected ourselves.

Jennie Carlson
Executive Vice President, Human Resources

Dr. King called on all of us to hold and feel the plight of our fellow Americans as our own, and to strive collectively to change and interrupt that which we should not accept. As Dr. King said, “The time is always right to do the right thing.” Do your right thing today in his honor.

Zack Boyers
CEO, U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation
Board Co-Chair, Forward Through Ferguson

For me, the very essence of Dr. King was anointed by a higher power to breathe life into the continuing legacy of "We The People" while uniting all people with an engaging and captivating vision of impartiality as it relates to humanity, opportunity, fairness and justice. He insisted that we all bear responsibility to contribute to a better tomorrow with an attitude of service. His platform of compassion, courage and service fueled my own journey to be a servant leader to the needs of my employees, my customers, and my community. I'm a better man, a better leader, a better friend, a better father and a better spouse because of his enduring legacy.

Darrell Brown
Region Manager, Los Angeles

When my kids were younger, I struggled to find meaningful MLK Day activities to help them understand the significance of a day of service, until we started a tradition of baking for friends and community members in need on MLK Day. We cook, we deliver, we share our favorite MLK quote and share what the day means to us, a mixed race family living in America, and we encourage the recipients to pay it forward. I want to teach my kids about the importance of service, a legacy that Dr. King left for all of us.

Reba Dominski
Senior Vice President, Corporate Social Responsibility

Dr. King was an authentic leader who spoke from his heart and shone the light on the inequality and injustice that he witnessed every day. He inspires me to listen to my conscience and know it is the surest way to make the right decisions.

Stacey Dodson
Market President, Portland and Southwest Washington

What does Dr. King's legacy mean to you? I’d love to hear your thoughts on Twitter at @gcunningham1, and encourage you to check out volunteer opportunities in your community.

Greg Cunningham is vice president and head diversity and inclusion at U.S. Bank