Dear UMass Dartmouth Community,
I started my day today by reading a 57-year-old speech about protest and promise. A promise, rooted in our country’s founding documents, that true freedom could be shared. And now, nearly my entire lifetime later, that promise continues to be questioned. On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech before an estimated 250,000 people, following the March on Washington. During his speech, Dr. King warned against both taking the “tranquilizing drug of gradualism” and allowing “creative protest to degenerate into physical violence.”
Over the last several months and again this week, we have seen tremendous physical violence—both as a cause and an effect. The cause: individual acts of brutality, born out of a system that often views neighbors as outsiders and differences as threats. The effect: vandalism, born out of years of frustration as the “tranquilizing drug of gradualism” is, perhaps, wearing off.
We now find ourselves amid a great pandemic with a virus that, while having no physiological propensity to attack one group over another, has impacted Black, Indigenous, and other people of color at rates as high as twice the rates of white Americans. This is yet another reminder that while all may have been created equal, not all are living equally.
But something is changing as those of us who have been too satisfied with the status quo for too long are now questioning our complacency about the gradual pace of change.
As we prepare for a new academic year, let us resolve to work together: to not just hear and see, but to listen and witness.
I encourage you to take a few minutes to read or listen to Dr. King’s speech today.
Mark Preble, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
Chief Operating Officer and Acting Chancellor