Like so many, I followed the Derek Chauvin trial, reading our national news and contemplating the possible outcomes as the jury deliberated. The reading of the trial verdict was an emotional moment.
The guilty verdict does not change what happened in Minneapolis and I continue to feel sorrow for George Floyd and his family. There is too much pain and injustice in our nation.
While the national spotlight has been on the trial outcome, my thoughts always turn first to our community and all of you. The killing of George Floyd represents a painful time in our nation. The trial outcome can represent a way forward. We must find ways to learn from and take care of one another, while still having the meaningful conversations about injustice of all kinds, including racial injustice, that help us reflect, heal and grow.
Our Roanoke College values can guide us. “Do your best.” “Pursue truth.” “Care for your community.” “Serve others.” Each of us can be a force for good if we embrace these values. At Roanoke, we are committed to making the College community more just, diverse, responsive and equitable. Much work has been accomplished through our strong adherence to that commitment. There still is more work to do, but I am proud of the efforts of our community leaders, especially Natasha Saunders, Wes Brusseau, Chaplain Chris Bowen, Jesse Bucher and others as we work to be more supportive of each other, regardless of our differences.
Earlier this month when we paid tribute to the enslaved laborers who had an integral role in building Roanoke College 179 years ago, we pursued truth and told our history. We recognized an injustice and will now forever remember the enslaved laborers who built our College.
“The killing of George Floyd represents a painful time in our nation. The trial outcome can represent a way forward. We must find ways to learn from and take care of one another, while still having the meaningful conversations about injustice of all kinds, including racial injustice, that help us reflect, heal and grow.”
President Michael C. Maxey
On Friday, April 16, the Office of Multicultural Affairs recognized individuals, organizations and departments with the Garren awards for promoting diversity, equity and inclusion here at the College. It was uplifting to see and hear from those who exemplify the qualities needed to create a welcoming and inclusive community at Roanoke. That night, we celebrated those who live our values fully.
Because of events like these at Roanoke College, I have hope that we can move forward to be a community where every member has respect for and appreciates one another. We can have a campus where justice is for all. We are a place where each of us can live our purpose and make a positive impact on the world, if we work together.
As I shared last June, “When we see hateful behavior toward others, we should do our best to stand up to it. We should seek truth even during the din of strife. We should care for all other Maroons, regardless of who they are. We should serve others who need us in the broader community.”
It has been an impossibly trying year for so many reasons, and I want you to know that there are resources here to support you during these emotional times. Maroon.Care is available and appointments can be scheduled quickly and online. Additionally, we will provide a forum for the community to discuss and reflect on the Derek Chauvin trial outcome and the nation’s response – you will hear more about this soon from your campus leaders.
President Michael C. Maxey