I have continued to receive comments on last week’s Jena Six dialogue. Below are two particularly insightful comments from a faculty member and an alumna:
From Dr. Sharon Shafer of the Music Program:
“Although I do not usually reply or comment on blog entries, I wanted to express my appreciation for the presentations and responses that have taken place in this past week. What all of this brought to mind is an email exchange I had at the end of a semester a few years ago with an SPS male student who had taken my course titled Blues, Jazz, Gospel, and Ragtime. He wanted to know why I was moved to tears in a class session while we listened to Billie Holiday singing “Strange Fruit.” The song is about lynching in the south and is one that Holiday sang in night clubs at the end of an evening with the requirement that the audience refrain from talking and focus on listening. If there was noise or negative response, she would leave the stage and refuse to return to complete her final set of the evening. I couldn’t explain to the student what emotions I experienced, and still do, every time I hear the song. Now, with more time and perspective, I understand a little better; and I am grateful to those who are better able to articulate the issues related to layers of injustice, racial tension, and behaviors that have not changed but absolutely MUST be changed. Most especially, I am grateful to President McGuire who has never backed away from these issues but instead has confronted and embraced them and invited all of us to participate in being change agents in the present as well as role models for future generations.”
Thank you, Dr. Shafer, for your very kind words and more, for your insightful reflection that calls all of us to listen even more carefully, to hear with open minds and hearts.
I also received a message from an alumna, Elizabeth Palmer, who had this praise for Trinity students:
[Regarding the Jena Six dialogue on this blog] “The voices of thoughtful, articulate Trinity women with a strong sense of justice and a willingness, even eagerness to further an important dialog made me want to be back on campus. I wanted to be in their classroom discussions and hear what they have to say on a plethora of other subjects. I wanted to hear what they talk about in the dining hall or the lounges, on their down time. That blog exchange really highlighted what uniquely impressive students Trinity draws to her halls today.
“…the blog discussion also showcased an important aspect of what sort of place Trinity is, in a manner that makes me all the more proud to be a Trinity alumna. It isn’t just a place of books and pencils where you follow a syllabus and collect your GPA at the end of each semester. It is a place that challenges students in and outside the classrooms, and insists that they think critically and speak assertively. I love that it is a place where campus discussion compliments classroom discussion, and that it is also such a wonderful proving and training ground for women who are drawn to a vigorous place of learning.”
Thanks, Elizabeth, for your strong words of praise for our students. I agree!
See today’s Washington Post article on “Colleges See Flare in Racial Incidents”