Before the recent murders of African Americans Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, many thought racism was a thing of the past; something that we read about in our history books that was subdued thanks to the efforts of civil rights activists like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
However, Matthew Slater recalls overcoming experiences dating back to when he was a child in grade school. It was these traumatic moments, whether intentionally or indirectly hateful, that have played a hand in his passion for racial reconciliation.
When Martin Luther King Jr. Day comes to mind for the Patriots special teams captain, he thinks of the gratitude he has towards Dr. King for the sacrifices he made for progress towards racial equality in America.
"I think him ultimately sacrificing his life so that black people and people of color could advance themselves and stand on equal ground is amazing.
Obviously as a Christian, I think that the way that he did it through love, compassion and peace is the most productive way to make that type of progress," said Slater.
Matthew Slater and his wife, Dr. Shahrzad Ehdaivand Slater, are guided by the same values as Dr. King and strive to use the Slater Family Foundation to help find commonality among all races.
Their foundation was created to empower individuals, churches, schools and community groups in all aspects of health and well being including spiritual, medical, relational, educational, economical, environmental and to the Glory of God
"I think as Christians we feel like God has made us all with equal values and we should try to find common ground to stand on. That starts with love, respect and with acknowledging the inherent equality that exists inside each and every human being. Reconciliation is a biblical precinct and it's something that we feel like we should pursue and we certainly want to use our platform to bring people together," stated Slater.
The Slater Family Foundation is commemorating the efforts of Dr. King's fight for equality and honoring his legacy by hosting an event on MLK Day in partnership with Convoy of Hope, the ELISHA Project and Bethel Ame Church. The four organizations will set up a trailer that will visit several sites across Providence, providing shoes and food to the Rhode Island community. Slater and his wife hope the event will uplift and bring together communities of color and make them feel valued and empowered.
"Because of the history of this country and our world these aren't things that are just going to happen. It has to take intentionality, us engaging people that don't and do look like us and trying to have productive dialogue. There are a number of ways we can do that. I always say it starts at home and then from there in your local communities engaging with people," said Slater.
Slater believes that people make time for the things that they care about.
Creating spaces and opportunities to achieve common ground with all races in your communities is crucial; not just on MLK Day or during Black History Month but throughout your everyday life too.
"There are a thousand ways to give back and get connected and now with modern technology you can educate yourself. Try to take advantage of those resources you have to be proactive and if it's important to you you'll find a way," Slater said.