Dear Campus Community,
I would like to invite you to Gettysburg College’s inaugural Presidential Speaker Series event on Thursday, March 19 at 7 p.m. in the College Union Building Ballroom. The series is designed to give us as a community the opportunity to reflect together on issues that matter—whether political, economic, social, cultural, or artistic. As will be true on March 19, we will often be joined by scholars and practitioners who can broaden our perspectives and enrich our conversation.
This year’s event will feature a presentation by author and Harvard Law professor Randall Kennedy, followed by a Q&A session. The recommendation to invite Professor Kennedy came from the Bias Awareness Resource Committee (BARC), after I asked for its advice about how we might learn from recent events both here and in society at large.
Professor Kennedy’s talk will explore the continued consequence of race in American society. He will approach this topic through a particular lens, “The Infamous N-Word in American Culture,” during which he expects to examine the history of the word—as well as its conflicting and controversial usage by members of different communities. The talk will remind us, if such a reminder is necessary, that words matter, and can be used to divide and alienate as much as to unite and inspire.
Professor Kennedy’s talk is both topical and essential. It will touch on issues that some may find uncomfortable. And yet an effective educational environment requires precisely that: the willingness to study difficult topics openly and honestly. Doing so is necessary to any meaningful learning; it is also a precondition to finding authentic solutions to issues, such as race and racism, that continue to demand our clear-eyed attention and commitment.
Please join me on March 19. Let us, together, learn from Professor Kennedy and use that knowledge to advance our commitment to making this a community to which every person, regardless of background or belief, fully belongs.