My dear friends,
As we come together in the wake of the tragic shooting in Jacksonville, FL, that unfolded on August 26th, my heart is heavy with grief and a profound sense of responsibility. This isn’t just about mourning the lives lost in a senseless act of violence, although that pain is deep. It’s about confronting the shadows that continue to linger in our society and acknowledging the dualities that define the experience of being Black in America. It’s a reminder that the journey towards justice and equality isn’t a straightforward path. It’s one marked by obstacles and challenges that we must navigate with unwavering determination.
We at Student U stand for something transformative. We stand for empowering first-generation college-bound students to dream fearlessly, even when the road ahead is anything but linear. We want our students to know they’re not alone on this journey and that their dreams can flourish even in adversity.
I’m reminded of the lessons from my own journey, as a mother striving to prepare her children for the world while simultaneously shielding them from its harsh realities. My experience mirrors that of many parents in marginalized communities. We prepare our children to navigate a system that often feels stacked against them, teaching them to excel academically and emotionally and to know they are cherished. But within that protection, there’s the fight for fairness, battling for what is rightfully theirs.
The dualities are stark: the protection and preparation, the pursuit of excellence within systems not inherently designed for our success. It’s that unnerving feeling, that sense of something not being quite right, that unspoken tension we carry as we tread in spaces that weren’t initially meant for us. Yet, within this duality lies the essence of resilience – the ability to challenge the system while arming our students with the tools to navigate it.
Amid this tragedy, the significance of Black August gains renewed meaning. It is a tribute to the numerous organizers, activists, and champions of freedom who valiantly gave up their lives and liberties in pursuing Black liberation. Black August emerged from a movement rooted in justice, where people sought to be treated with the dignity and respect every human being deserves. This concept underscores that our struggle for equality and justice isn’t isolated to one event or one time – it’s an ongoing battle that each of us must carry forward.
Yet, as we grapple with this struggle, we must remember the importance of connection. The events of that fateful day show us that hate can fester and take root in a young person’s heart, leading to unimaginable tragedy. How do we, as a community, respond to this violence and hatred? How do we counteract the forces that try to divide us?
The words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. come to mind, especially as we reflect on the day following the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington. He once said that leaders are not just searchers for consensus but molders of consensus. It’s time to find the commonalities that bind us, the threads that connect us as human beings. We must look past our differences and divisions and find shared hopes, dreams, and values that can bring us together. Our future depends on it.
My friends, our journey is not an easy one, but it’s one we must face with courage and conviction. We cannot let the shadows of hate define our path forward. As we mourn the lives of Angela Carr, Anolt Laguerre, Jr., and Jerrald De’Shaun Gallion, let us remember their names, and their stories, and commit to making a change. We must confront the challenges of duality, of preparing our young people for a world that isn’t always welcoming while continuing to fight for a more just and equitable society.
Let us take the lessons of history and the pain of the present, and shape a future that truly embodies our dreams and the dreams of those who came before us. The struggle continues, and we will rise above the darkness together and build a better world for all.
Executive Director, Student U