Remembering and Reflecting on Dr. King, OccupySLU, and the Clock Tower Accords
Dear members of the SLU family,
The anniversary week of OccupySLU is the time of year we pause and reflect upon our intentional work:
- To advance diversity, equity, and inclusion at Saint Louis University.
- To be a global Jesuit university that is mission-focused, student and patient-centered, and research-driven, and is working with the people of St. Louis to reimagine, transform and unify our city.
As a Jesuit research university, we are called to contemplate the social and racial dynamics — and pain — that led to the encampment in October 2014, and which culminated in the Clock Tower Accords. Those accords have served as a catalyst for continuing conversations and actions that have brought cultural and structural change to our campus. Mindful of the letter and spirit of those 13 accords, and our University vision, we know we still have much more to accomplish.
We remember the visceral pain of that time following the shootings of Michael Brown and Vonderrit Meyers Jr, son to one of our own Saint Louis University employees. Those tragedies, and the manner in which identities of people across the spectrum responded, cleaved our region and brought to the surface generations of social, economic, educational, and health care disparities tied to one factor: race. Protests spread outward, across our nation and the globe. Months later, the Movement for Black Lives was born.
Here in St. Louis, protesters, including our students, staff and faculty, took the city streets as part a civil action called Ferguson October. On the night of October 12, more than 1,500 protestors convened at the Clock Tower. An encampment remained, serving as a gathering place for large teach-ins and small-group dialogues.
The outside pressure to forcibly remove student and non-student protestors was immense. And unrelenting. At the end of that week protest leaders, joined by a local activist, met with university leaders off and on over two days. We affixed our signatures to the13 Clock Tower Accords, which ended the occupation constructively and peacefully.
October 12th, 2014 also marked the 50th anniversary of the speech Dr. Martin Luther King delivered on campus in what is now called the Center for Global Citizenship. Today, fifty-seven years after Dr. King visited our campus, his address is as relevant as the day on which it was delivered. It remains a call for prolonged efforts towards social, racial, and economic justice.
In the spirit of inclusion, we invite all to participate as we celebrate and commemorate King's 1964 visit, the 2014 occupation, and the Clock Tower Accords.
We ask that you reflect upon these events and join in the positive changes happening on campus and consider what more must be done. Our continuing commitment is to build a university where all of our students, faculty, and staff have the support and conditions necessary to flourish and thrive. This means battling inequities, being honest about our community’s shortcomings, and paving a path forward that eliminates barriers to the changes necessary for SLU to be the place where all Billiken's can realize what we ought to be!
Please use this form to share what your unit is doing to move these efforts forward, keeping in mind that the responsibility of fostering an equitable, diverse, and inclusive campus belongs to all of us.
Thank you for your time and efforts to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion at SLU.
Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D.
Michael Lewis, Ph.D.
Amber Johnson, Ph.D.
Interim Vice President of Diversity and Community Engagement