Diversity and Community Engagement

The University of Mississippi

Closing Remarks by Dr. Donald R. Cole, Assistant Provost and Assistant to the Chancellor Concerning Minority Affairs

Program for Reflection and Unity
Thursday, July 21, 2016
Paris-Yates Chapel

Good Evening,
We have come and gathered as a community, as a family, and as concerned individuals to publicly express our Unity in condemning the senseless murders that have taken place in our nation; we have come to mourn loss of life for reasons that we don’t understand.

A fundamental principle of a civilized society is its recognition and respect of the sanctity of human life.

  • “WHY” is among the ultimate questions that we ask ourselves
  • How do you stop it?
  • How to we make sure that our community, our campus, our students are safe?
  • That our Black Young African American Males are not terminated simply because of their race?
  • That our police officers, first responders and uniformed personnel are all SAFE as they go to work, drive along our roads?

All of us have partial answers to these potent questions, while none of us have complete answers to all of them.

  • We all have undergone a series of extreme emotional feelings.
  • Hurt – cheeped into the hearts of many
  • Sorrow, disappointment – have lingered on our minds
  • We have lashed out – even to those that love us
  • Thoughts of evil have invaded our minds – even when we know better and even when its against our better judgment.

But we remind ourselves that hate, prejudice, or any other negative force hold no part in our individual efforts to put this puzzle together that we call solutions and answers to these difficult questions.

We need your help. We need your help.

  • To frame the future dialogue that must take place
  • To plan and quantify the appropriate programing that must take place
  • To aid us in the research and discovery of truth and justice

The famed lecturer Ralph Waldo Emerson once penned:
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”

I know the shameful past of our University, our community and even our country, with regards to race relations, but

I vision
I see
I imagine
I believe
I comprehend

a glorious future because I know what’s lies within us;

The hurt – will lessen
The sorrow – will subside
The “gotta get you back” feelings – will disappear

We conclude this portion of our unity gathering with the tolling of the bells of Paris-Yates Chapel as our expression of mourning for the lives lost to senseless violent acts as well as

our commitment – our commitment – our commitment

to find solutions that will stop this violence and unify our community.

I charge that you will be an “active participant” in our healing process and in our solution process.

The Paris Yates bells will toll 16 times expressing my commitment and your commitment made this day — in year of our Lord 2016 — to remember and mourn the lives lost and our commencement to find solutions.

When I’m trying to piece together a huge unknown, solve a great mystery; when I don’t have the desired answers, I’ve learned turn to a “higher power” as I seek solutions.

Following the tolling of the bells, I’ll invite those who desire spiritual reflections and prayers as the start of your commitment to find solutions to remain in the Chapel for a few minutes as Dr. Ethel Young-Scurlock offers up meditations.

For those who are ready to commence their answer-seeking commitment at a different location, I’ll ask you to depart the Chapel for a destination of choice to begin your personal quest with family, friends, and those in your sphere of influence.

Thank you Chancellor Vitter for calling us together. Thanks are extended to all who worked behind the scenes on this program (Provost Stocks, Dr. Clark, and Dr. LeBanc) and to our city/county officials (Mayor Patterson and Supervisor Busby). Thank you, participants — faculty, staff and students and community liaisons for your participation.

We gather again this fall to continue this process — we look for you to do your “homework” in bringing your piece of the answer to the table as we piece together answers that will stop the violence that we have witnessed in 2016.

So then, after the bells toll and a moment of silence (reflection), you are dismissed from this gathering – except those desiring to join us in prayer and meditation. For those leaving we ask for a quick departure of the Chapel.

While standing and holding hands – let the bells toll!

Thank you.