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Sibby Anderson Thompkins
(Photo: Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

 

Dear Carolina Community,

As we reflect upon the tumultuous events over this past year and last week, many find ourselves pondering the instability of our nation’s future. Whether the civil unrest following the presidential election or the outcry from the unjust murders of Black and brown people, these events have brought important lessons regarding human rights, xenophobia, civic engagement, and the consequences of our words.

Recently, I attended a meeting of my sorority and had the opportunity to hear Reverend Mary Jane Palmer, the assistant pastor at St. Paul’s AME Church, speak about recent events. She delivered a poignant meditation on the “power of words,” stating:

Words can incite violence like we saw this week.

Words can lead to out-of-control anger and rage.

Let us be careful what and how we speak into the lives of others.

And let us learn to reflect before we speak and to always speak the truth wrapped in love.

Let us pray for discernment and wisdom in both our speaking and our hearing.

This month marks anniversaries and events of historical importance, which reminds us of why our words and our actions matter:

January 18 is Dr. Martin Luther King (MLK), Jr. Day in which we celebrate the life and legacy of a man who inspired us to only fight hate with love. Dr. King’s message of peaceful protest and the protection of all human rights and freedom still resonates today. At Carolina, we have several MLK virtual events scheduled, including the annual banquet and the lecture and awards ceremony. See links below for registration.

January 20 is the Presidential Inauguration ceremony whereby our country has historically made a peaceful executive branch transition. The incoming administration pledges to restore our faith in democracy and to work toward equality for all. This monumental inauguration marks the swearing-in of our first woman and first person of color as our nation’s vice president.

January 27 is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a somber occasion marking the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, one of the many Nazi Germany concentration camps. This commemoration reminds us of the brutality of human action and the sacrifices made to secure the freedom of its many victims.

I hope you will attend one or more of the MLK events and also use this time for service and reflection on the potential power of your own words and actions to affect positive change.

Wishing you all a happy, healthy, and safe new year,

Sibby Anderson Thompkins, Ph.D.
Special Advisor to the Provost and Chancellor for Equity & Inclusion/
Interim Chief Diversity Officer

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