The message below was sent Monday, June 8, from President W. Ellis Arnold III ’79 to the Hendrix College community.
Dear Hendrix community members,
Thank you to all who participated in the Community March for Equality this weekend in downtown Conway. It was encouraging to see so many community members representing Hendrix and showing their support for Black Lives Matter.
Over the past week, Hendrix alumni, faculty, staff, and students have reached out to share their experiences, ideas for improving our climate on campus, and suggestions for moving our community forward. Messages from our Biology Department, English Department, and Sociology/Anthropology Department, along with the Office for Diversity and Inclusion, are just a few of the expressions of community support for students and colleagues, Black Lives Matter, and our collective desire for change. I am grateful to everyone for your commitment to Hendrix and the values and mission of this institution that call us to reject racism.
Hendrix has a responsibility to be a leader among national liberal arts colleges for campus diversity and inclusion. That responsibility grows from the social principles of our founding church, as well as from our legacy as a college that inspires students to be leaders for social justice in our state, across the country, and around the world. We must not be silent.
The late Civil Rights Movement activist Jack Singleton, Hendrix Class of 1963, participated in the Selma Ministers’ March, a decision that cost him his job. He is just one example of a Hendrix alumnus who dedicated his life to serving the needs of the world. We were scheduled to honor him with an honorary doctorate of humane letters this year, before we canceled our in-person Commencement ceremony. Until his death last year, he willingly shared his experiences with Hendrix students as part of the annual Dean’s Civil Rights Trip and challenged Hendrix students to work toward social justice. He connected the issues of the 1960s with the challenges we still face today. Jack was not silent, nor can we be at this important time in our nation’s history.
This spring, student leaders organized a community forum, where students shared personal experiences that underscore the need for more progress at Hendrix. To our students, past and present, we must all acknowledge that racism in any form is wrong; it is a problem; and it has no place in our community. Now we must continue our efforts to reject racism in all its forms.
Thank you for your actions, calls for change, and for expressing our values of love and justice for all.
W. Ellis Arnold III ’79