A message to the UMBC community from President Freeman Hrabowski:
More than 50 years ago, the nation was shocked when the 16th Street Baptist Church in my home town of Birmingham was bombed and four little girls—my friends—were killed. People of all races were in disbelief that hatred could be so strong. Today we find ourselves again in complete shock as a nation, struggling to understand how an event as tragic as the shooting of nine people in a South Carolina church could happen in 2015. None of us can say how to put this in perspective.
In times like this, it is important that we reach out and give support to others, think out loud about the importance of community, and reflect on those values that make us decent human beings: our capacity for caring for each other and respect for the dignity of life itself.
UMBC is a special community in which we believe in supporting one another, working to understand and appreciate differences, and endeavoring to learn as much as possible about those qualities that make us human. I encourage faculty, staff, and students to take the time to discuss the challenges we face in this country and beyond involving race, discrimination of all types, inequality, and other social challenges.
When my friends were killed in 1963, some of us didn’t know how we could ever move forward. It was only through coming together and pledging to each other that their lives would not be in vain that we gained strength and hope. We vowed we would never forget. I challenge all of us to do the same.