June 16, 2020
Writing this letter has been a challenge for me considering the impact of social, racial, and economic injustices that are happening in America today…the land of the free, where opportunities are supposed to abound. It hurts deeply to see the injustice inflicted upon persons of African American and Hispanic descent, especially the latest which resulted in the deaths of Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta, GA, just this weekend, and Mr. George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, three weeks ago. Following these incidents, there have been protests in Washington, DC; Atlanta, GA; Seattle, WA; Houston, TX; Dallas, TX; Longview, TX; Tyler, TX; Las Vegas, NV; New York, NY; Chicago, IL; and many more cities and states. For years, African American men and women have been subjected to police brutality and a broken criminal justice system. These violent acts of injustice are quite disturbing, to say the least. In addition to seeking avenues to overcome these societal ills, we are in the midst of COVID-19, a pandemic that has killed over 100,000 people in the United States alone. It is time for us to come together as a people in our quest for equal justice and police reform.
Racial justice, social justice, and economic justice are all intertwined. Disaggregating them will not provide you the complete picture of the state of affairs for African Americans and Hispanics. These ills are the underlying causes of the unrest in our country and abroad. It becomes our obligation to work together as a team to halt the senseless killings of our black and brown sisters and brothers by the police, for is it not their primary role to serve and protect? As such, I encourage you to protest in a peaceful manner, understanding that you have the right to protest…to speak out…to have your voices heard. It is important, furthermore, that you not be dismayed or persuaded by others with ill intent. I am proud of those of you who have spoken out against injustices in this manner. Let us continue to stand together as a people, black, brown, and white to peacefully protest against police brutality. It is good to see that persons of all races and ethnicities are protesting for a common cause. Let us stand up for justice and effect change in this world. Let us work to close the economic gap and address the issues of hunger and homeliness. Let us go to the polls and vote. Our ancestors fought for the right to vote. Let us engage in a meaningful movement and let us live to tell our stories to the generations to come.
Please know that Jarvis Christian College stands with you in this fight for justice. As an institution of higher learning, affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), we are strong supporters and proponents of justice. In addition, in keeping with the Church's vision of faith, growth, community, spirituality and justice, we will work together in a movement for wholeness in a fragmented world. We will continue to remind the public of our position on the injustices that are thrust upon us until change comes. I am hopeful that change in America will come to fruition soon and that the injustices of the world will only be a figment of our imagination…a faded memory.
Stay safe and healthy!
Lester C. Newman