(This message has been posted on behalf of Dr. Douglas N. Searcy, President of Barton College)
Members of the Barton College Community,
In his Letter from A Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King, Jr., said the greatest threat to the civil rights movement was the white moderate – those individuals who believed in the equality of all men and women regardless of race, but who were silent or unwilling to champion the movement, calling for ongoing patience to “wait” for a better time and place rather than to instigate change.
That time and place was before George Floyd. That time and place was before Ahmaud Arbery. That time and place was before Breonna Taylor, before Tony McDade, before Nina Pop. It is not today.
Today, it is not enough to wait for change. It is not enough to send you a letter advocating change. It is not enough to post about wanting change. We stand together as a community to pursue change and to assure our Black and brown students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends that we see them.
Barton College is an institution for learning. We accept our role in challenging the status quo and doing the work to examine systemic injustices, learn about and address our own biases, and amplify the voices of those who experience oppression. About 40% of our student body is from underrepresented populations. It is this diversity that gives a richness to our teaching and learning, and makes us better. Today, I write to declare that I, as your President, stand with all of you in honor of that 40% and say we will wait no more.
Barton College commits that our community will bear the Light of Life (John 1:8) to all. With grace and intentionality, we will have the discussions that help us be an authentic and just community. We will share resources and continue discussions around social justice and cultural competence. We will affirm and amplify the voices of underrepresented people and continue to lead as we advocate for change.
In the coming weeks, we will be asking faculty and students to help curate a list of resources to promote awareness, empathy, and action. Until then, there are many suggestions from various reading lists and documentaries to explore the history of racism in America, confront its current state, and address how we can move forward toward real change. Multiple video services carry the stories of Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, Kalief Browder, the Central Park Five, and more.
Waiting for a “better time and place” is what Langston Hughes would call a “dream deferred.” Barton will not defer. We raise our voices now – individually and collectively – to call for justice, equality, and change in this moment. Barton affirms its Black and brown students, staff, faculty, alumni, and friends. We see you, and you matter to us. Your safety matters to us. Your health matters to us. Your education matters to us. Your life matters to us. You matter.
Douglas N. Searcy