Updated: Jun 17, 2020
June 3, 2020 Dear Martin University Community,
Like many of you, I have been angered, saddened, and disappointed by the horrible events that caused the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis at the hands of four police officers. While I felt compelled to issue an immediate statement in response to that injustice, I honestly did not have the words at the time. As a black man, and the father of three young black men, I struggled to make sense of it all. The unrest occurring in our city and others throughout the country are a manifestation of what many others also feel, not just for George Floyd, but for Dreasjon "Sean" Reed, Ahmaud Arbery, Sandra Bland, Eric Gardner, and the countless others whose names may or may not have been reported in news stories. Unfortunately, the peaceful protests to decry racism and injustice, and are meant to spark change, are devolving into something much less productive at times. In many ways, those actions can mute the voices of progress that we desperately need. As a Communiversity and the state’s only Predominantly Black Institution, I believe Martin University has a duty to respond to issues that impact our communities. At their core, higher education institutions are places in which civil discourse, constructive activism, and collective impact should be fostered, advanced, and protected. For Martin, this means that the challenges that affect the black community and other historically marginalized communities must be met with more than words. To that end, we are ready to take steps that will help advance our cause. Our students, employees, alumni, and community stakeholders are our most powerful assets, and we believe their collective thoughts and participation must be central to our efforts.
We are currently in the early planning stages for the Martin University Center for Racial Equity and Inclusion. The Center will provide a workspace for leaders to construct new initiatives that will help initiate change and engender greater racial equity and inclusion throughout our region. Through education, collaboration, and collective impact, Martin will take action to help bring about the change we would like to occur.
These efforts are only the beginning. Through education and activism, Martin University will continue to focus on identifying ways to make progress possible so that change can be realized. I look forward to our work together. Best Regards, Dr. Sean L. Huddleston, President