Over one hundred years ago, W.E.B. Du Bois wrote in The Souls of Black Folk, “How curious a land is this, how full of untold story, of tragedy and laughter, and the rich legacy of human life; shadowed with a tragic past, and big with future promise!” Since his book’s publication in 1903, much has changed in our world; many stories have been told, and laughter and tragedy have been part of our lives.
We have seen hope for a better future where all individuals are treated with respect, dignity, compassion, equity, and with love.
The Montgomery Bus Boycott took place in 1955, followed by the Albany Movement in 1961 that condemned all forms of segregation and discrimination, and the March on Washington in 1963 where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. famously called out and named the racism in our society and shared his and others’ hopes and dreams for the future of what America could be.
In 1964, the U.S. Congress put into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.
My intention here is not to provide a history lesson in how far we have come, but rather to demonstrate how far we have failed.
Many of us were not born yet to remember the events above, but we have lived through tragedies – specifically the murders of Trayvon Martin, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Daunte Wright. While we all know these names and these tragedies, we must remember these are only a few examples of the hurt and the pain experienced by the Black community.
In addition to these needless deaths, we have seen a rise in hateful words, hateful actions, and overt and systematic racism without any consciousness or regret.
Salt Lake Community College is committed to our core values: Collaboration, Community, Inclusivity, Learning, Innovation, Integrity and Trust. While these are our core values, this is not intended to imply that SLCC is an exception to these social plagues. We have work to do – each of us, including me.
What follows are “To Our Black Students, With Love,” which are letters from our campus community to our students. I am confident these letters will stand on their own and I will not attempt to summarize them here. In closing, while work to do better and be better, we stand in solidarity with you.
Chuck Lepper, Ph.D.
Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management
Follow To Our Black Students, with Love to read more letters as they are published.