Today, University of the Cumberlands President Larry L. Cockrum issued the following statement addressing the racial injustice taking place across America:
Every morning this week, I have walked into my office with a heavy heart. The recent killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, which took place here in Kentucky, are intolerable.
These events prompted me to reach out to my friends and colleagues, and rethink my own role. I always knew my black friends faced different challenges and stereotypes, but seeing this happen again and again, I cannot imagine the injustice black Americans feel every single day of their lives. It is time for this injustice to end.
When I came to University of the Cumberlands sixteen years ago, I knew I was someplace special. Our mission statement says the University exists to provide a high-quality education “to students of all backgrounds.” I am proud to know our campus community strives to live out this statement and is welcoming and empowering to our growing and diverse student population, but there is more we can do.
I ask myself, in light of these events we are all witnessing, is that component of our mission enough to drive change? I think not, so, today, I challenge everyone within the campus community to take a moment. Reflect on these events. Reflect on your own compassion toward humanity. Then, accept responsibility to help affect the change we all know is desperately needed in every corner of this country.
Work hard to educate yourself on these issues and the injustice we are witnessing. Take a stand in your home, your place of worship, and your community. Vote. Donate time to just causes. Open your heart and love one another. Diversity and tolerance are not a one-time theme that we pay attention to only when horrible things like this happen, it’s a journey that provides many lessons along the way, so embrace it. We are stronger together.
University of the Cumberlands will continue to be a college focused on our students, regardless of their background or color. We will work harder to ensure each of them has the support and strength to make a difference in this world for all of us. Together, we will stand behind this commitment and stand with everyone who strives to cure this country of intolerance and injustice.
I’ve compiled a short list of books from the conversations I’ve had that may be helpful in driving thoughts and critical conversations. I encourage you all to be catalysts of change. Let’s ensure UC is a diverse, tolerant, and safe place for everyone.
• Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
• So You Want To Talk About Race by Ijeomo Oluo
• White Fragility by Robin Diangelo
• The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander