By Furman’s NAACP
In 1966, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of a “beloved community” that requires, “a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives.” This beloved community has not yet been realized. We must press forward toward a community that harbors a mutual respect for all people.
On the evening of Tuesday, Aug. 26, two branches were tied together in the shape of a cross and set aflame on the Swamp Rabbit Trail. Campus officials later reported this incident as an act of vandalism that bred an investigation by the university at large. While it may be perceived as an act of vandalism against Furman University, however, it is also an act of vandalism against the diverse community that the NAACP tries to cultivate at Furman. We felt it necessary to use this forum to begin an open dialogue. We ask you, what kind of community are we seeking to build on Furman’s campus? As an organization dedicated to justice for all people, we have an obligation to declare that acts of intolerance will not be accepted. It is our duty to clarify exactly why a burning cross violates our community. The symbolism of a burning cross unearths memories in our national consciousness of violence toward people of color, namely African Americans. By the light of burning crosses, men, women and children were beaten mercilessly, lynched, castrated, burned, and, more likely than not, killed. When an image with such an ignoble history resurfaces in a community like Furman, we cannot be silent. Addressing intolerance in a place such as Furman requires ceaseless vigilance. Furman is, first and foremost, an institution of higher education. As students dedicated to a productive learning environment this incident cannot go unnoticed. The intent of this act is unclear, but our message remains the same: Furman is a community of equals. We should strive to continue this tradition.
If any student feels uncomfortable at any time, please do not hesitate to contact FUPO, the Chaplain’s Office, the Counseling Center, or the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.