In light of important conversations taking place today about the history of race relations in our country, institutions, including St. Thomas, have discovered racist events or activities that have taken place in their past.
The photos and statements recently published looking back at St. Thomas’ history, including “blackface” and “slave-master contest” references are very disturbing and, while Dr. Sullivan has emphatically affirmed they have no place in who St. Thomas is as an institution today, they are an undeniable part of our history. “We do not condone these actions that occurred in the past nor can they be excused, but our community can look forward and commit to turning these revelations into ‘teachable moments’ for students, faculty and staff,” said Sullivan. “We also must acknowledge that while these blatant racist photos do not depict our community today, we do still struggle with institutional and structural racism, which we must continue to more fully understand and address.”
As part of the recommitment to combat racism at St. Thomas, the campus community is encouraged to seek opportunities for frank discussions about our own institutional racism and how our campus community can directly address it. It’s also important to understand the context and historical consciousness of racism.
You are invited to join Dean Kathlene Holmes Campbell of the School of Education and Dean Yohuru Williams of the College of Arts and Sciences at the “Dean’s Forum and Teach-In Tuesday Event: A Need for a Black Historical Consciousness” on March 19 from 11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. in O’Shaughnessy Educational Center auditorium. While a robust agenda had already been planned, time can be set aside to answer St. Thomas-specific questions. The invited speaker is special guest, Dr. LaGarrett King, who will lay an important foundation for future discussions. King is an associate professor of social studies education and founding director for the CARTER Center for K-12 Black History Education at the University of Missouri-Columbia. His research looks at the teaching and learning of black history in schools and society. He has won numerous awards, published in high-impact scholarly journals, and is working on three books in 2019. He will speak about the need for a black historical consciousness and how history is connected to solutions that can help us move forward.
St. Thomas’ priority is always to assure our students, faculty and staff of color that they are welcomed and valued at St. Thomas. We rejoice in the diversity that all in our community bring and St. Thomas is committed to doing the hard work it takes to ensure the goal of a creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for all is achieved. For information on the Action Plan to Combat Racism communicated last fall and our progress to date, please visit OneStThomas or the public website.