July 15, 2016

To Listen and Truly Hear

46th Annual Indiana Black Expo Summer Celebration
Indiana Convention Center
Indianapolis, Indiana

Today Is Different

I wanted to begin with the usual flowery language.

I wanted to thank you all for being here.

I wanted to say how honored I am to represent President McRobbie, Indiana University, and our 8 campuses at this remarkable 46th annual Indiana Black Expo Summer Celebration . . .

All of that is true.

But today is different.

After Orlando, after Baton Rouge, after St. Paul, after Dallas, and —now— after Nice.

Today calls for more than flowery words.

Today calls for action.

Do you agree?

As chancellor of IUPUI, I know that hope is at the heart of the most powerful education.

This Nation's Powerful History

Today also reminds me of this nation’s powerful history.

Nearly fifty years ago, less than three miles from this very spot, Robert Kennedy spoke these words in the aftermath of the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination:

He said, “What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love, and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.”

Today, I say to you, the violence we are now facing as a nation is not new, and it is still as heartbreaking.

Together, we mourn with the families who have lost loved ones. We gather in protest to help strengthen our communities by building understanding, compassion, and empathy.

Hope at the Heart Education

We also gather in hope:

Hope for safety . . . Hope for peace . . . Hope for justice . . . .

And as chancellor of IUPUI, I know that hope is at the heart of the most powerful education:

Hope that we can help the next generation

Hope that our children will lead better lives

Hope that, together, we can change our world.

President Obama might call this “the audacity of hope.” At IUPUI, we call it what we do every day.

Of course, to change our world takes more than hope. It takes action.

We at IUPUI and at Indiana University applaud Mayor Hogsett and others who have called for action that will overcome the indifference that silences good people; action that will make our city—this great city of Indianapolis—a model for others to follow.

We join the mayor, Indianapolis religious and civic leaders, and our longstanding partners throughout the city in fostering a community where justice diffuses violence; where compassion counters hate; where respect overcomes rage. . . and where knowledge strengthens mutual understanding and supports our search for peaceful solutions.

The Power of Community

As an academic community, we have the responsibility to seek answers to the most difficult questions through open, honest dialogue, to analyze options, and to encourage thoughtful action.

As a community, we seek compassionate methods to resolve conflict and to build positive relationships that improve our world. 

At IUPUI we are unwavering in our commitment to ensuring a welcoming, safe, civil, and inclusive environment for students, faculty, and staff. This is more than TALK. It is ACTION.

Giving Students the Tools They Need

As this city’s largest and most comprehensive university, we at IUPUI help our students —one quarter of whom are students of color—find their own voices and the words they need to motivate positive, productive action.

We give them pathways to the knowledge they need to contribute in meaningful ways to our increasingly diverse society as teachers, health care professionals, business leaders, artists, lawyers, engineers, and—yes—mayors of cities like Indianapolis.

We give them the tools they need to understand and combat the rage and hate that have found voice in current political discourse.

To Listen and Truly Hear

We give them the ability not just to listen but to truly hear:

When someone says they can’t breathe . . .

When someone says they are reaching for their wallet . . .

When someone says black lives matter.

Black lives matter.

Black lives matter.

Thank you very much.