Dear alumni/ae and friends,
The love of learning was one of my playmates as I was growing up. I was surrounded by educators and sages and the foolish, and the textures of my days meant living and breathing in a fascinating and constantly shifting community of learning.
This world had adults in it like Mrs. Edna Wynne who ran what now would be considered an illegal day care center out of her home. But to kids like me who had two working parents, she provided a safe place to come home to and kids to play with. She taught us about the ways of some white folks as we were all dutifully parked in front of the television set to watch the afternoon soap operas when the Southern heat of the day kept us inside.
I learned that beautiful lives do not beget beautiful people; that powerful white men must be treated with circumspection and care—do not fear them but know how to deal with them; that even the most evil of people could be brought low by circumstance; and that there was something wrong in a town that had no children. No wonder, I thought, that these folks live lives of drama and angst—they don’t have any children to play with them!
The one thing that was constant in how I was raised was the importance of truth and honesty in my words and deeds. The folks who helped raise me were not perfect, but they tried to live and model a life of integrity that was grounded in their religious beliefs.
Today, you and I must take up the lesson plans from these now-departed wisdom bearers and continue to demand that the societies in which we live be grounded in a robust honesty. In a postmodern world of post-truth and post-facts that are served up as alternative facts, the most faithful and prophetic thing that we can do, some days, is to stand up for truth-telling and then live it.
Emilie M. Townes
E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Chair
Professor of Womanist Ethics and Society
Click here to view the April 2017 Spire.
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