Over the past weeks of February, I have awoken each day to a note from someone on campus focused on a leader—in celebration of Black History month, I have heard about Bernice Johnson Reagon, Fannie Lou Hamer, Pauli Murray, Jacqueline Woodson, Belle Wheelan, and others. I also have had the chance to get to know Salem alumnae a bit more through Salem Voices, and I have learned from those of you who have reached out with questions and ideas. Your leadership, too, is inspiring.
All of this is honoring history. And, we know it is igniting the future. Those phrases are ours to remind ourselves that celebrating Salem’s 250th means standing in the present, understanding our complex past, and moving forward together. We know that today’s circumstances require change from each of us—and from Salem as an institution.
Over the coming months, some of that change will be institutional shifts that take place in the background—as we work through an understanding, for example, of our data systems and as we continue to work through the challenges that face us during the COVID-19 pandemic. Other changes will be lifted up in coming weeks to remind us of our commitment to changing the world—expressed in our mission statements at Academy and College, as a commitment to create leaders who will make that change.
Beyond that, many of the changes will take place in individual lives—as our students read and reflect. We hope that years from now they will see these days and months as important in shaping who they become. I know that our students shape me—as a leader who learns. Whether it is the Student Government Association reminding me to listen or discussing civil religion with Chaplain Amy Rio’s college class, attending the Academy student government meetings, or meeting with a recent speaker who discussed Black genius with them, our students inspire us all to be better.
As we continue through February, I know we will carry Salem forward into a brighter future.
We are always and ever grateful for your engagement with Salem. It matters—it lifts us up, and it ignites our future.