Dear beloved EMU community,
Like you, I am overwhelmed with revulsion and sadness by the reprehensible death of George Floyd. That the death occurred in the midst of a pandemic that has killed over 100,000 Americans, and upended the economic livelihood of millions of others, a disproportionate number of whom are persons of color, and on the heels of several other highly disturbing deaths involving racial injustice, magnifies the epic disaster of his death.
Like you, I grieve for our nation’s soul; my heart breaks for our communities of color who live with the fear and burden of sustained racism every day; and yet I stand proudly in solidarity with thousands of courageous and peaceful protestors of every color and creed across the country and world, who do not accept silence, apathy or indifference.
Like you, I am proud to serve a university that is unapologetically committed to the life and lessons of Jesus, the Prince of Peace. Peacemaking, social justice, restorative justice, community-building, and a commitment to diversity, inclusion and equity are deeply embedded in our core values and “Life Together” commitments. Our mission is especially prescient in these fractured times: to “prepare students to serve and lead in a global context” in the spirit of Micah 6:8: “to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.” Our vision is now an urgent clarion call to “open pathways of access and achievement for all students who aspire to be unifying leaders, equipped with intercultural competence, oriented to peace and justice, and grounded in the life and teachings of Jesus.” Each one of us has work to do, individually and together, to make our vision reality.
In the days that follow may we remember as a community of learners, as John Lewis, the civil rights icon who marched and suffered with MLK, said Saturday: “Be constructive, not destructive. History has proven time and again that nonviolent peaceful protest is the way to achieve the justice and equality that we all deserve.”
That beautiful and brave mindset models Jesus’ words in Matthew 6: “Love your enemies; Pray for those who persecute you!”
In Prayer and Remembrance,
Susan Schultz Huxman, PhD
President, Eastern Mennonite University
The Zehr Institute for Restorative Justice, a program of EMU’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding, has posted resources on both criminal justice reform and racial justice and the intersection of those efforts, including a webinar on building mutual understanding between community and police. Also visit CJP and Eastern Mennonite Seminary to view course offerings on racial and social justice.