President Walter Harrison sent the following message to the campus community on Wednesday, April 16, announcing a commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act that will be held on campus in the fall of 2014.
Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students,
Last Thursday, April 10, President Obama and three other living U.S. Presidents commemorated the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by attending a Civil Rights Summit at the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin, Texas. The Act helped establish a legal foundation to address civil rights issues five decades ago and today.
I am extremely proud to announce that our University will hold its own week-long celebration of the Civil Rights Act this coming fall, September 17–22. The impetus for our commemoration comes from Bob Forrester, President of Newman’s Own Foundation and an alumnus and regent of the University. Newman’s Own Foundation is sponsoring a year-long exhibit on the Civil Rights struggle that will open in June 2014 at the Library of Congress. Bob and I agree that this is an excellent teaching and learning opportunity, as well as a chance for our community to become inspired, motivated, and involved. This celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act and a thoughtful and inspired reflection on its place in American history and culture fit perfectly with the University’s values, history, and mission.
The theme and call to action for our week is “Empowering Change, What Can I Do?” With this call to action, we hope to both honor the movement’s legacy and encourage additional change where needed for the present and the future. Our hope is to have all commemoration elements in place by the end of this school year so we will be ready to activate our event in September. To this end, special events manager Maureen Connolly, who was contracted by Newman’s Own Foundation to coordinate our campus-wide programs, has begun meeting with deans, vice-presidents, faculty, staff, and student organization leaders to gather ideas. If you have thoughts or ideas on possible events and ways to participate, please pass them on to your dean’s or vice-president’s office or to a student organization leader.
I look forward to seeing the many ways we all can participate, reflect, and act to empower change.