To the Kelley Community,
Last week in our country, we experienced one of the most tragic weeks imaginable in our lifetimes. This description is not simply a reference to the more than 100,000 lives lost to COVID-19. This statement is a reflection of the horror we all witnessed in the killing of George Floyd. Mr. Floyd’s tragic death has led to an understandable sense of fear, outrage, sadness and discontent in addition to feelings of powerlessness. And it is an all-too-familiar example of the injustices against the African American community in this nation – an injustice that is grossly disproportionate in its impact on this community. It is an injustice so great that we are left wondering if, when and how we can heal as a country.
This year, I had the privilege of spending time visiting civil rights museums in Montgomery, Alabama. If you have never been to the Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, I urge you to go. This is far from my first visit to a memorial aimed at educating us on the important issues of social injustice. But this memorial, like no other place I have visited, focuses the mind on racial terrorism. As you walk silently through the solemn spaces that capture the horror of slavery and lynchings, you are reminded of a dark, dark history in the chapter of the American experience. Sadly, the events of this past week – and really more than that, the events of the past few years – remind us all that the word “history” is not the proper word. History implies a sense of the past, and our country is clearly not past this dark chapter. We continue to live elements of it over and over again.
I am not a politician. I don’t have the power to change laws and leaders other than through my vote – my powerful, constitutionally granted vote. But, I am a parent and an educator. As a mother, I cannot imagine, nor will I ever fully appreciate, the unbearable sadness and grief other parents are having to endure, especially if a loved one has been lost due to the injustice we are witnessing. Nor can I imagine the impossibility of having to make sense of this to a young child or even a young adult.
As an educator, I have always believed in the power of education as a tool to enlighten and uplift. And, like you, I have a voice. It is my hope that in this collective moment of grief, we use our voices to speak up and educate those around us about injustices that can no longer be tolerated in our society. As Martin Luther King Jr. stated, “True peace is not the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.”
Please find ways to support each other during this time. If you are a student, check in on your classmates. Check in on your friends and your neighbors too. Be a beacon for change that is accomplished peacefully but powerfully in its impact. Whether you influence one or hundreds, each of us, in ways we are uniquely and individually qualified, can use our skills and knowledge to make a difference. I believe in our school’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusivity, and I pray you do, too. I ask that all of us – students, faculty, staff, and alumni – come back together this fall and bring our ideas for how we can strengthen diversity, equity, and inclusivity of our Kelley community.
Please stay safe.
Idalene “Idie” Kesner
Dean, Kelley School of Business and Frank P. Popoff Chair of Strategic Management