Message to the Community Regarding Civil Unrest and Race Relations

To the Maryville community,

The events of the past few weeks and the horrific killing of George Floyd have exposed the scourge of racism and exclusion in American society. Unfortunately, this act is part of a long history of America’s collective failure to deal with issues of race. The corrosive impact of racism must be addressed, called out and through education, dialogue and action, eliminated from our society.

As an educational institution committed to dialogue, truth, enlightenment and justice, we must be sure to help lead that effort. We must continue to stand for the values of tolerance, inclusion and equality. This means that we must not avoid the important conversations (even during this remote working environment), to reach out and discuss what our students, staff and faculty are feeling and thinking. Racism and its impact must be exposed, honestly faced, addressed and ultimately driven out from our social discourse, our policies, and certainly out of the actions of our public officials and those sworn to uphold the law.

Those who peacefully protest and call out such racism are exercising freedoms guaranteed by our constitution and fought for by millions of brave men and women throughout our history. They deserve our engagement. Those few who would use this tragedy to engage in violence and crime do not represent the values of justice and freedom that all education must support and enhance. We can never condone those few who try to warp peaceful protest for their own ends.

In the weeks and months ahead let us help each other to face these issues squarely and with emotional honesty. Let us recommit our community to that most sacred of principles; justice, equally applied and guaranteed for all. Dr. King taught us that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Mark Lombardi, PhD
President of Maryville University

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