An Open Letter,
Dear President Rooney,
My name is Calvin Eaton and I am an antiracism educator, activist and founder of 540WMain Communiveristy (www.540westmain.org). I can say that like many in the Rochester community; I am appalled and angry at the public vandalism and desecration of the Douglass Statue by St. John Fisher students Charles Milks and John Boedicker.
As an university leader I am confident that you do not need me remind you of the legacy of Frederick Douglass in Rochester as well and the 200th anniversary celebration of his birth and legacy that these statues represent for our City. The fact that white students affiliated with St. John Fisher College would have the audacity to tarnish this celebration and legacy in such an abhorrent way is not only devastating but speaks to the need for more education, training, and awareness in the local college community and Rochester at large.
Even though these students and their actions are independent of the values espoused by St. John Fisher College we as a community hold you equally accountable for how your students interact with our community. This incident cannot be swept under the rug.
It is our hope that you plan to publicly speak on this incident, are transparent as to how these students actions will be addressed and will work with our community in making sure that an incident like this does not happen again. Civil Rights leaders fought for centuries to ensure that incidents like this are a thing of the past; yet here we are repeating history with white men that should know and be doing better.
Additionally, I am open to connecting you with partner organizations working to dismantle systemic racism in our community and beyond. As a University leader it is incumbent upon you to lead by example to ensure that all members of the St. John Fisher Community understand that this level of hatred and racism will not be tolerated.
We look forward to your reply and are watching closely.
3 thoughts on “An Open Letter to St. John Fisher President Gerard J. Rooney”
CIVIL WAR AND RACISM
The controversy and bitterness over removal of statues of supposed Confederate heroes throughout the American South has become a rallying point for neoNAZI and Alt-Right groups.
The unpresidented attack on a statue of one of the boldest African American leaders of that era must be examined in the light of many such acts meant to intimidate and terrorize People of Color in current American society.
The questionable denials of the white perpetrators of any racial intentent in this serious crime rings hollows in the light of witness testimony to the contrary. These denials have occurred frequently in similar situations across America. White people become quite uncomfortable discussing issues of race and racism, desperately seeking to deny that institutional racism persists in our nation because of white privilege and white hatred.
Rochester can benefit from the frank examination of this crime by encouraging discussion of race and racism in our community.
Let’s not brush this illegal behavior under the rug so as to avoid discomfort. Rather, let us begin courageous conversations led by such fine institutions as St. John Fisher College.
Now is the time.
Here is the place.
Let us begin.