Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Time to Go to Work

This is the note I sent to our campus community this morning in the election aftermath:

Good morning family-

If you are like me, you are sleepy. I finally gave up the ghost around 1:30 am when it was clear that America had spoken. It was probably a fitting end to an interesting 7 days for Dillard University. Just a week ago, we found ourselves at the epicenter of national news when a well-meaning protest ended in chaos. I am deeply sorry that some in our community felt like one of the participant’s participation on our campus was offensive and threatening, that they had been disrespected. Believe me, no one here has paid for this more than me, having been viciously attacked on social media, threatened and disparaged mostly by people I have never met. More than anyone, I wish things were done differently.

But last night I hope you received wake-up call- I sure did. It is time to get serious and go to work.

While we live in a protest culture, Trump’s supporters didn’t talk about it, they did it. And now many issues that are important to HBCUs, their alumni and students, will be in jeopardy- don’t fool yourselves. Larger issues like prison reform and voting rights will face new challenges, a new Supreme Court may roll back important legal gains, and higher education faces a president who rarely mentioned us at all- we don’t know what to expect.

Now more than ever we have to be Dillard Bold, Dillard Proud, Dillard Strong.

We will announce a time for faculty experts to help us process the election today in Georges, and next Wednesday you don’t want to miss Van Jones- he was POWERFUL last night on CNN (either Google his comments or check twitter- lots of people are talking about it). Process is important.

But big picture: It is time to go to work.

2017 marks the 50th anniversary of King’s last book, “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community” published that June. He gave a speech with that title to the SCLC on August 16, 1967. Take some time and read it today.

Pay special attention to his thoughts about how the Watts riots can’t be viewed as effective action, his commitment to love his enemies (read Matthew 5:38-48), and the concept of a Divine Dissatisfaction. My King Day speeches next year will be a 50th anniversary reflection, and in the age of Trump, the question really is where do we go from here. And in April, I will turn 50. The fact that these words so accurately describe what we see today troubles me, and therefore any delusion that many might have had that America was in a new place after 8 years of Obama was wiped away with a reality check signed by one Donald J. Trump.

We need to come together in the spirit of Ex Fide Fortis, strong from faith. Get your faith right, because these times call for strength and unity. Below is a note from Bishop Cynthia Harvey from the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church- she is on our board. I hope her words offer additional comfort to you.

As always, I am here for you- don’t be afraid to reach out. I will do so as well.

Walter M. Kimbrough, Ph.D.
Dillard University
2601 Gentilly Blvd.
New Orleans LA 70122

God is Still God

The months leading up to this election have been long and the words have been ugly. But today, the sun rose and the God of yesterday is God today and tomorrow and the many tomorrows to come. Some awoke today happy, some sad and some confused but God is still God.

There has never been a more important time for God's people to be in concert as a nation and as people of faith.  We must listen to one another and not simply the headline hype and rhetoric of the pundits. Our future is secure in the knowledge that God is with us.

It is time to pray for our leaders. May God give them the wisdom to lead with eyes open to see the needs of the people and the ears to hear their cries.

May we, people of faith, be reminded of our clarion call to bring good news to the poor, release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind.  We must stand for the least and the lost, the oppressed and the marginalized protecting the rights of children, immigrant families, African-Americans, Latinos - all of God's children.

And as my colleague and friend Bishop Ken Carter has said, "The Kingdom of God is not the United States of America."  Let us not confuse the two.

May we live in a spirit of hope and never of fear.

Grace and Peace,
Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey

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