August 28, 2023

Sixty years ago, on August 28, 1963, an estimated crowd of more than 200,000 marched to the Lincoln  Memorial in Washington, D.C. for “Jobs and Justice”. On that historic day, Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered what now is famously known as the “I Have a Dream” speech for a just democracy and equal  opportunity for black people. Three weeks later, the Sixteenth Avenue Baptist Church was bombed in Birmingham, Alabama, killing four teenage black girls: Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robinson, and Denise McNair.  

This past weekend, thousands of people returned to the Lincoln Memorial, not only to commemorate the March on Washington, but to demand public policy changes and to continue efforts to fulfill the  “dream” of a just democracy for all. While the commemoration was taking place, the white supremacist  racial hate of 60 years ago that killed the four black girls in Birmingham resurfaced again in Jacksonville, Florida, killing three black people at a Dollar General Store. The shooter first targeted a nearby HBCU, Edward Waters University, to carry out the violence, but a sufficient security presence turned him away.  

During these traumatic days of gun violence and racial hate, we must lean on each other for  encouragement and support. I ask all to heighten our vigilance for safety on campus. As the College  heightens its security and safety protocols, if you see or observe someone or something that appears to  be an activity out of the norm for campus safety, please report it immediately.  

As we face the national community trauma of gun violence and racial hate, I want to assure our  students, faculty, and staff that American Baptist College stands in solidarity with the families who lost  loved ones and he Jacksonville community. Also, you are encouraged to reach out for emotional or  mental health support if you feel the need.  

We remain determined and resilient in pursuing our college’s educational mission and are committed to educating leaders for justice advocacy. We must never lose courage in striving for a better future, and  work against all forms of oppression and racial hate in this nation and the world.  

We dare to dream of new possibilities of justice.