Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Unity Day: Dr. Faulkner on Diversity

Vol State celebrates Unity Day today. NBA Champ John Salley will speak at 12:30pm and 7pm in the Wemyss Auditorium in Caudill Hall. Both appearances are free and open to the public.

On this day that the college celebrates Martin Luther King, Jr's call to action, Dr. Faulkner has a personal story about what diversity means to him.

I grew up in a home with significant prejudices – mostly racial.  It wasn’t that my mother and father were hateful or evil people.  Quite the contrary; they were loving, Christian parents.  The root of their prejudice was what they had been told by their parents and relatives.  They accepted that as truth.  This was reinforced by the fact that all of their friends held the same ideas. 

As I grew up I heard the stories from my family and friends.  I had no reason to question them and so I also accepted them as truth.  I watched the evening newscasts about the civil rights movement but I filtered all that through what I believed was the truth.

When I began high school I attended a newly integrated school.  It was, as far as I can remember, the first time I had been in a non-commercial situation with a person of another race.  It was the first time I had a real conversation with an African - American person.  I was startled to learn that what I had been told was false.  Additional experiences in high school and college confirmed that I had been misled.

Prejudice can only exist in an atmosphere of ignorance.  That is why diversity on our campus is so important.  It provides opportunities for all of us to learn about things where we may ignorant or misinformed. 

As we observe the holiday to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. and as we move into the next few weeks of diversity centered activities, let’s all take the time to search for the truth.  Remember, the truth will set you free.

-Dr. Jerry Faulkner

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