Voorhees College interim president op-ed piece-George Floyd verdict
(DENMARK, SC) On April 20, 2021, a Minneapolis jury unanimously found Derek Chauvin guilty on all three charges, including second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter (the first charge carries a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison). Although the jury’s disposition was a victory for accountability, the quest for justice still continues. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. admonished that “the arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice.” Here, Dr. King aptly describes the current climate and momentum of police brutality, racism, and social injustice in the United States. In short, we are not where we need to be, but thank God we are not where we used to be. The struggle is real. The work continues. Achieving justice will require our action.
In such perilous times of hatred, gun violence, police brutality, voter disenfranchisement, and seemingly the continual racist reduction of humanity towards African Americans and persons of color over and over and over again, I challenge each of us to not stand on the sidelines, but to become proactive, instead of reactive to injustice and to become essential agents for change. Voorhees College is committed to strategically and systemically impact change against the injustices of the state, the nation, and the world from the perspective of love. Inspired by the 27th and current Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church, Bishop Michael Curry, Voorhees College has developed the Becoming Beloved Community Initiative. Bishop Curry informed us that “Love looks like all of us — people of every race and religion and national origin and political affiliation — standing up and saying “Enough! We can do better than this. We can be better than this.”
Voorhees College is indeed dedicated to doing better. Deliberately designed to address historical wrongs and inequities, this critical platform includes: (1) implementation of the Institute for Social and Environmental Justice, Diversity, and Inclusion, (2) establishment of the Center for Community Engagement and Development, and (3) launch of the Center for Women’s Empowerment and Advancement. The Institute for Social and Environmental Justice, Diversity, and Inclusion at Voorhees College is committed to active involvement in social justice issues, including, but not limited to: environmental and climate justice, voting rights, healthcare access and equity, refugee crisis, racial injustice, income gap, gun violence, employment, housing, hunger and food insecurity, discrimination, ageism, LGBTQ, and other issues.
The Center for Community Engagement and Development at Voorhees College seeks to expand experiential learning opportunities for students and faculty and to aggressively search for federal and other external funding, and other commitments to support our external community, and establish systemic means of Becoming Beloved Community. The Center for Women’s Empowerment and Advancement at Voorhees College seeks to address a plethora of issues related to women’s positionality in society, culture, and economy to include, but not be limited to: violence against women and girls, gender pay gap, digital gender divide, informal work and instability, period poverty and stigma, and underrepresentation as leaders.
I too celebrate along with countless others in the conviction of Dereck Chauvin, representing accountability and providing a glimmer of hope that indeed the life of George Floyd matters and certainly that Black Lives Matter. However, please view this victory as a beginning and a critical opportunity for engagement for each of us to do more. This is now a call to action. At Voorhees College, we encourage your participation in the aforementioned initiatives, as we solicit both your prayers and your monetary gifts to support our efforts to uplift the ambition of people while demonstrating God’s peace and love.
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