Goddard community urged to ‘confront racism in every corner of our lives’

Robert Kenny

Robert Kenny
President, Goddard College

PLAINFIELD, Vt. – The Goddard College Board of Trustees unanimously passed a resolution declaring their support for the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, where nine people were killed in a racially motivated mass shooting.

The Board motion, which was adopted at the Board’s June 27 meeting, reads:

Consistent with the values of the College, the Board of Trustees and the President of Goddard College decry and grieve the murder of nine people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, on June 17, 2015. The board stands with those who see this as an act of terror, based in and intended to inflame race-based hatred. The board further stands with those who understand that race-based hatred is deeply embedded in U.S. history and culture, and will only be uprooted through vigilance and action in all parts of society. We vigorously support the faculty, students, alumni and staff of the College in their efforts to address racism and race-based hate in their scholarship, teaching, activist and artistic practices. Further, we understand our responsibility as individual members of the Goddard Board to confront racism in every corner of our lives; we reaffirm that commitment today.  

Goddard President Robert Kenny, who is also a member of the Board, said the motion was the Board’s unequivocal declaration of its continued commitment to an educational model that demands that students take “imaginative and responsible action in the world,” as written into the College’s mission statement.

“The members of the Goddard community continue their quest to live our foundational values, which include a commitment to justice and helping to create a just world,” Kenny said. “This means the College must ensure that its learning environment and expectations explore the role oppression plays in undermining that justice.”

Dylann Roof, who is white, is alleged to have killed nine people in a mass shooting at the downtown Charleston church on June 17. Among the dead was the pastor, South Carolina State Sen. Clementa C. Pinckney, and members of his congregation who had gathered for a Bible study. Roof allegedly targeted Emanuel AME because it is a historically black church with a civil rights leader at its helm.

“Oppression is violent and leads to further violence, which reveals itself in events like the Charleston murders and in too many undocumented and untold acts of brutality,” President Kenny said. “Goddard expects its community members to learn from their experiences and to bring that knowledge to bear in their efforts to shape a just world.”

About Goddard College

Goddard College was founded in 1863 as a Universalist seminary. Unitarians and Universalists were active in abolitionism, the women’s movement, the temperance movement, and other social reform movements. Alarmed by the rise of fascism in Europe in 1938, the Goddard Seminary was transformed into Goddard College, which would unite the values of the seminary with John Dewey’s belief that interactive, self‑directed education could help build civil, democratic societies. With its main campus in Vermont and educational sites in Port Townsend and Seattle, Washington, Goddard serves a diverse student population that is dispersed throughout the United States.