Dear USF Community,
As you know from my announcement last week, this Friday, June 19 — Juneteenth — will be a university holiday this year. I hope that all members of our community will use this time to consider how we will actively engage in work to end racism against Black people.
How you choose to spend the day is entirely up to you. What you read or watch or discuss with family, friends, and colleagues is a personal decision. I believe that this day will provide you not only with an opportunity to reflect on racism in our country and our history, but will also lead you to ideas and actions that will challenge you personally. You also may find ways to incorporate ideas, for instance, into your research, teaching, or service. You may gain new perspectives on the work we’re doing with each other in our teams, departments, divisions, or as part of the larger community.
Many of you have already explored the anti-racism resources that are available to our community. Please see the references below for some examples of specific ideas for reading, viewing, discussion, reflection, and exploration on June 19. They are but a few of the resources available to you.
The Office of Diversity Engagement and Community Outreach (DECO) has compiled a list of select educational resources that highlights university-based and supplementary educational resources to support anti-racist efforts and address racial justice and reconciliation for the Black community. This work is an essential contribution to our collective efforts, in addition to the community vigil webinar on June 3 and the follow-up event with Clarence B. Jones, director of the USF Institute for Nonviolence and Social Justice, on Wednesday, June 17 at 11 a.m., both of which were shepherded by DECO. Under the leadership of Vice Provost Mary Wardell-Ghirarduzzi, DECO has already facilitated conversations around anti-racism work in several departments and divisions on campus. I encourage you to seek out the resources available to you through DECO and partner with them on initiatives and programs.
Gleeson Library has collected online materials you can use to engage with anti-racism and social justice, to deepen your understanding of how our history, societal frameworks, and power structures are built to uphold racism, violence, and white supremacy. The Anti-Racism Resources and White Privilege Resource Guide is a collaborative effort by Gleeson Library staff.
University Ministry and the Mission Council have compiled resources for racial justice education, professional development, prayer, and reflection.
You may choose to participate in national events of celebration and resistance taking place on Juneteenth weekend. Many USF staff, faculty, and students will take part in the National Call for Moral Revival and March on Washington organized by the Poor People's Campaign. The event aims to be the largest digital gathering of poor and dispossessed people and all those of conscience in this nation's history. The gatherings are scheduled for 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. June 20 and 3 p.m. June 21, with more information at www.june2020.org.
If you view or revisit the 2014 film Selma as part of your reflection, please be aware that the McCarthy Center’s community partner, the African American Shakespeare Company, is hosting a webinar/talk back on the film with Selma co-star Colman Domingo on Saturday, June 20 at 4 p.m. The conversation will focus on the actor’s career and life as artist and activist, the current cultural climate, and Black Lives Matter.
You may also choose to visit the Juneteenth mural on the east side of Ella Hill Hutch Community Center on McAllister Street in the Fillmore, painted by the late Eugene White.
Finally, I know this is an extraordinarily busy and stressful time for our community — not only due to the intensive planning that is going into our fall reopening and budget considerations, but also for the external events that have impacted our personal and professional lives. It’s difficult to take time away from our day-to-day work. However, it is important to reflect, remember, and recharge, and I hope you take advantage of this time on June 19.
Thank you for devoting time on Juneteenth to consider what racial injustice in the Black community means for us today, and how we can actively work against racism on an ongoing basis in our daily lives. I pray that our important work together going forward is fruitful and productive. I pray that the USF community’s anti-racism work results in true and transformative change for our university, our nation, and our world.
Paul J. Fitzgerald, S.J.