University Response to Racial Violence
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
- Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., 1963
May 31, 2020
Dear Members of the Wilkes Community,
It is a challenging time at Wilkes and in our world. In addition to the anxieties and fears caused by this unprecedented pandemic, we are also dealing with grief, anger and sadness in the wake of the killing of George Floyd. This story is, tragically, all too familiar. While many of us are shocked by the images of hatred, violence and abuse captured on cell phone videos, this is just another example of the institutionalized racism that has been part of our world for far too long. This and other video images provide just a glimpse into the reality faced by Black Americans. Bearing witness to and being outraged by these images requires that we all band together to create the systemic change necessary to eradicate prejudice and inequality.
We know that members of our own campus community have suffered the indignities of prejudice. Recently, the pandemic made obvious disparities that challenged our students' opportunity to have equitable access to education. Economic instability, food insecurity and lack of technological resources emerged when we transitioned to remote learning. In the broader society, Black Americans have been disproportionately impacted by the economic downturn, and the COVID-19 death toll is significantly higher due to disparities in health care.
Even though we can't be united on campus, we continue to be drawn together by the values we hold in common as members of the Wilkes community. As demonstrations and protests are held across the country to call attention to racial violence and injustice, we remain committed to creating just and inclusive communities. Each of us can raise our awareness by listening and learning as our fellow citizens share their experiences of racism. Each of us has the power to use our voice to challenge injustices wherever and whenever they appear. Our collective energy can be used as a force for good as we stand with those who face violence, are marginalized or treated without the dignity they deserve.
In 1963, the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote from the confines of a Birmingham jail, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Though we are not together physically, we must continue to support one another, to listen intently, to engage in conversation and to learn and grow in the spirit of empathy and compassion. Higher education celebrates these values, and Wilkes University embraces them. Our family of Colonels stands together. And together, we stand on the side of peace, love and dignity.
My best to all of you,