Letter to the Editor: Equality and Inclusion at Marshall

Dear Editor:

Long ago, as a young child, I learned a song in Sunday School, which is admittedly insensitive and politically incorrect today.  Still, it got the message across to me that there was no difference in skin color or race when it came to people who were all “precious” in “His sight.”   Even though I did not speak out against racism as a child in segregated Mississippi, I have always valued and viewed all lives as precious and important.

As I grew into an adolescent and young adult, I started to find my voice to take a stand against injustice and racism.  Consequently, I can say “Black Lives Matter” with a conviction from a background of faith and life experiences and a raised consciousness over the years and even more so recently.   I think many people share my belief that all peoples’ lives are valued.

That certainly goes for Marshall.  Our university embraces everyone, and everyone is respected here.  Marshall University has its flaws and its imperfections, but I am committed to attempting to make Marshall a better place for our Black students, our Black faculty, and our Black staff.  By doing so, it will be a better environment for all groups and all people at Marshall.

A sweeping and positive change is occurring in our country, as we have never seen before.  As a result of the killing of George Floyd and others, the nation’s consciousness has been raised.  This has bolstered the commitment at Marshall to engage the words of the Marshall Creed: “to devote ourselves to defending individual rights …” and to being “a judicious community remaining alert to the threats posed by hatred, intolerance and other injustices …”

Consequently, we are assembling a university-wide group to brainstorm ideas to identify barriers to equality and promote inclusion at Marshall.   Working with Vice President for Student Affairs Maurice Cooley and SGA President Anna Williams, we have reached out to selected student leaders and others in staff and faculty to discuss possible topics of action.  We will be bringing in more people as we go forward, and you will learn more about our planning at a later date.  All ideas and all possibilities are on the table.  Nothing will be excluded.

As the campus employees return this summer and students return to campus this fall, we are anticipating new energy focused on social justice at Marshall.  I and many at Marshall will welcome this.


Jerome A. Gilbert