Preserving Our Common Humanity
Dear Woodward Community:
It is not my custom to write reflections when school is not in session, but the events of the past few weeks compel me to offer this statement to our community. My heart is heavy for our country, as it feels our common humanity is unraveling.
As a country we are faced with the impacts of the unjust deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd, a continuation of too many recent examples of African American men being judged by the color of their skin rather than the content of their character. Persons of color, especially the African American community, have a heaviness of heart, far greater than mine. They are confronted, yet again, with graphic video evidence of white men taking the lives of black men. We should all be outraged that we are failing as a country in our commitment to accord equity and justice to all people. While I understand the protests have been born out of decades of pent-up frustration and anger, it is my hope that Dr. King’s model for non-violence will prevail in these volatile times as we strive to break the cycle of systemic racism that continues to plague our country.
I have remained at Woodward the last 11 years because it is my deep conviction that Woodward, more than any other educational institution in Atlanta—even in America—is doing its part with the richness of our diversity to work toward a common future by promoting character development, civil discourse, and a commitment to equity and justice. Our commitment to deep respect demands that all individuals are treated with dignity, worth, and care. We do not tolerate discrimination of any form and seek to create a culture where all members of our community feel safe and valued. To be sure, we have our failings. I will not lift us up as an example of perfection in our effort to live fully the Woodward Way of respecting ourselves, each other, and our world. But we earnestly try, and I am confident the work we do here, as exemplified so magnificently by the Class of 2020, will have a significant impact for generations to come.
The work before us at Woodward and beyond is urgent if we are to preserve our common humanity. I remain committed to continuing to understand my role, my privilege, and engaging in opportunities to learn from the black community. In this time of national uncertainty and anguish, may we all commit ourselves anew to Woodward's important mission. May we always be Atlanta at its very best by each of us treating others, in this moment especially, with greater levels of care and compassion. And in doing so, may we be a model to others of a community of care and concern for ALL people.
F. Stuart Gulley