On Friday, Roanoke College commemorated Juneteenth for the third year in a row. Members of the campus community gathered for lunch and a chat at the Colket Center. Here is the statement from President Michael C. Maxey:
Thank you for allowing me to send you my remarks today as we commemorate June 19th. An important part of my job as President has always been to ensure that the College is a fair, just and diverse place to learn and work. We are not close to perfection, but this important work will only be accomplished through consistent actions that we all take to support each other and speak out against injustice when we see it. I know President-elect Frank Shushok supports all efforts to ensure Roanoke College embodies a welcoming and inclusive culture.
We know there is work to be done and accountability; this is one of the reasons the role of Vice President of Community, Diversity and Inclusion has been added to the leadership team. We are grateful that Teresa Ramey is leading the College’s efforts to create a socially conscious and culturally inclusive educational environment that celebrates diversity, where all students, faculty and staff are respected, valued and have a sense of belonging. His work started just over a year ago and you can already feel the momentum building.
To move forward, we must act and we must also listen in order to learn. This year, in the true spirit of collective listening and learning, the first Virginia Race Conference was held on our campus. It was an inspiring example of how positive and helpful it can be to bring together students and educators from a myriad of backgrounds and institutions to share ideas and experiences about race. I am grateful to the Virginia Conference on Race Founder and Organizer – Dr. Carrie Murawski – who coordinated the event with support from the Roanoke College Center for the Study of Structures of Race. The presentations were important, informative and inspiring.
This year, the Center for Studying Structures of Race also presented a series of webinars focusing on the history and future of monuments in society and addressed the history of racism in the country, particularly against black Americans. It was an honor to hear from Professor Henry Louis Gates of Harvard University, Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research on Reconstruction at Harvard. During his speech, Dr Gates said: “May we find courage even when the tide rolls against us. With history as our guide, ladies and gentlemen, we will not be turned away.