Today, President Obama delivered an emotional eulogy for the pastor of Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church, who was gunned down last week along with eight fellow worshipers during an evening prayer session. On behalf of UCI, we join the president and the nation in expressing our deepest sorrow and sympathy to the victims’ families and communities. We condemn this terrible act of violence, racism and bigotry.
In his earlier remarks regarding this tragedy, the President quoted Martin Luther King Jr., who said after terrorists killed four little girls in a bombing of a Birmingham church: “… we must be concerned not merely about who murdered them, but about the system, the way of life, the philosophy which produced the murderers. Their death says to us that we must work passionately and unrelentingly for the realization of the American Dream.”
The work that Dr. King described many years ago continues to be a challenge for the country as a whole. Universities have a special role to play. We have an obligation to create communities on our campuses that are exemplars of how diverse groups of people work together and learn from each other, how we honestly confront our own biases and celebrate our cultural differences.We must use our vast expertise, across a multitude of disciplines, to more clearly elucidate “the system, the way of life, the philosophy which produced the murderers.” We must also generate ideas and commitments that can be a source of enlightenment for our nation and for the world, paving the way toward a more just and peaceful future, where hope trumps despair, understanding subdues ignorance, empathy overrides insensitivity, and respect conquers hate.