This message is from Brevard College’s President, Dr. David C. Joyce and was written on June 3. 2020
Dear BC Community,
This week has been one of angst, concern, and grieving. I am angry. I am angry that, as a country, we continue to witness malicious and racist incidents that have led to assault and murder on persons of color.
A Black man goes jogging in Brunswick, GA and is gunned down as a “suspected” burglar by a father and son duo. A Black man goes bird watching in Central Park in New York City and is threatened by a woman who calls 911 to say that “an African-American man is threatening my life.” A Black man is arrested by four police officers in Minneapolis and dies suffocating as a police officer kneels on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. As other police officers look on, George Floyd is heard saying, “I can’t breathe,” and calling for his mother. “I can’t breathe,” begging for his life, calling for his mother, with no mercy shown.
The list of these awful incidences grows exponentially as one looks back over history. But when will they stop as we move forward? When will we recognize the value and worth of all people regardless of their color, gender, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, national origin, or political affiliation? When will the hate end?
Yesterday, those of us still on campus and in the community, gathered at the bell tower, for a service of hope, reconciliation, and a call to social action. Our college minister, Sharad Creasman reminded us that we are all God’s children and that we are loved. He also reminded us that Martin Luther King, Jr, once told us that without hope we will perish. Hope appears to be a difficult concept when we witness latent outbursts of hatred and violence toward others. When will the hate end?
This is the 21st century. For the sake of our Lord, when will we behave like citizens of the world bound together by our commonalities and appreciated for our differences? How do we forge a pathway forward to rebuke violence and hatred? How can we find hope in a time of a global pandemic when we treat our brothers and sisters as distant and unwanted cousins?
I am truly angry. Nevertheless, I pray diligently every day for strength, guidance, and the gifts of faith and love to keep all of us focused on the future with the HOPE of reconciliation and forgiveness. But what can we do in light of what we see around us?
As for me, I promise to start with my personal mission; “to help people achieve their potential and discover their worth through the love of God and power of education.” I am honored to serve as the president of Brevard College because, as a community, we have articulated our mission as a commitment “to an experiential liberal arts education that encourages personal growth and inspires artistic, intellectual, and social action.” My personal mission and the mission of our college are compatible. This is where I will fulfill my purpose and commitment.
Education gives us power. It is not just about earning a credential that helps one find employment and some economic security. It is about growth, understanding and expanding our world view. It is about an appreciation for the aesthetic in order to stretch our comprehension of the beauty and wonder of our universe. And, it is also our call to social action, the commitment to serve and work to make our community, local and global, a better place. We have to have courage, emboldened by love, to work for change.
Yesterday, I also quoted Martin Luther King Jr. during the gathering at the bell tower. King said, “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.” We have to embrace our roles as teachers and learners to create a culture of character and intelligence. I will certainly do my best to ensure that Brevard College is living the mission we profess.
I also commit to working with our campus community every day to build a culture of inclusivity, acceptance, and appreciation for others. I will stand strong against hate, injustice, and violence. I hope and pray that you will join me in these endeavors and let us hold each other accountable as we act in a spirit of love, hope, and charity.
The madness has to stop now. -DJ