Remarks from our Executive Director, Gary Jones.
During Black History Month last year, I was the Interim Executive Director of UConn Hillel. UConn Hillel always enjoyed a good relationship with the University's African American Cultural Center. However, in part because of Hillel's strong show of support for the Black community on campus in response to racist incidents that occurred at the university during last year's fall semester, the relationship became even more collaborative and supportive.
In addition, Dr. Willena Kimpson Price, the wonderful and inspirational Director of the AACC, was deeply concerned about the series of attacks targeting Jewish people in our country during that year. Like a good leader and a good person, she wanted to show support for members of the Jewish community in the most effective way possible.
Every year at UConn, the AACC holds a gala Opening Ceremony event for Black History Month. More than 250 students, faculty and supporters of the AACC regularly attend the Opening Ceremony. Dr. Price had arranged for a very prestigious speaker, Dr. Joy DeGruy to deliver the keynote address. But she also wanted her students to use the event as a way to show solidarity with the Jewish community who had suffered from a string of hateful murders. She arranged for a vigil to take place during the Opening Ceremony festivities.
The vigil, led by student leaders of the AACC, involved all of the attendees at the Opening Ceremony event. Still, she wanted to do more. She wanted her students to know that Black and Jewish people have been and should continue to be allies. She asked me to speak to the Opening Ceremony attendees about the history of the Black and Jewish communities working together in coalition and to recommend ways that all people can do more to stand up for all victims and stand against bigotry whenever it appears. Here is the talk I delivered in response to Dr. Price's charge.