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A Message from EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows for 2022 Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Dear Colleagues:

On Monday, January 17, we will celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day – a national day of service honoring the remarkable life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., our country’s most prominent civil rights leader and 1964 Nobel Peace Prize recipient. Our agency’s establishment is linked directly to the calls for equal rights and racial justice that Dr. King and other civil rights leaders so eloquently put forward at the historic 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. In response, Congress created the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) as part of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964.

For me, at the core of Dr. King’s legacy and our own work is this reminder: 

“We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. And whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. For some strange reason, I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. And you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be.”

This idea of interconnectedness – that we must work together to ensure that everyone has equal justice in America – is vital to the spirit of this agency and the future of our nation. That spirit has sustained us, and will continue to do so, as we advance fair treatment and justice for all people in the workplace.

Moving forward in 2022, I am excited to work with you to continue our mission-critical efforts: to pursue racial justice, promote equity, and protect vulnerable communities. The EEOC has a key role in the Administration’s whole of-government approach to addressing systemic discrimination and advancing equal opportunity. Among other things, we are providing advice and assistance to federal agencies as they implement Executive Orders 13985 (Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government), Executive Order 13988 (Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation), and 14035 (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility in the Federal Workforce).  

To build on Dr. King’s legacy of combatting poverty and pursuing economic justice, the EEOC has partnered with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs to launch HIRE: a Hiring Initiative to Reimagine Equity. The fight for equal opportunity in the form of better jobs and higher wages played a critical role in Dr. King’s work, and HIRE will carry forward the spirit of those efforts. The initiative’s purpose is to identify strategies to remove unnecessary barriers to employment and promote equitable, job-related hiring and recruitment. Through HIRE, employers and worker organizations can collaborate to expand employment opportunities and help overcome racial and systemic barriers to good jobs and economic prosperity. By strengthening effective diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility efforts in the workplace, our agency can help ensure that, as our nation recovers from the pandemic, we build an inclusive economy that works for everyone.

As a theologian, scholar, and civil rights legend, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was devoted to uplifting our nation’s most vulnerable members. His service left an imprint of compassion, hope, and unity on many organizations and institutions, including our own. Throughout its history, the EEOC has embodied Dr. King’s vision of interconnected humanity and racial justice in our work and our priorities. As we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, let us draw inspiration from his words that “the time is always right to do what’s right.” Looking ahead, we reaffirm our commitment to doing what is right – advancing equal opportunity for all and promoting fair treatment in the workplace. 


Charlotte A. Burrows


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