College of Charleston President Andrew T. Hsu shared the following message regarding Black History Month with the campus community on Friday, Feb. 5, 2021:
Dear Campus Community,
In honor of Black History Month, I wanted to share a poem by one of our talented poets on our English faculty, Gary Jackson.
Professor Jackson had written and performed this poem, “Forward and Back,” for my inauguration in fall 2019. His poem is a wonderful piece of literature that captures the evolving nature of this 251-year-old institution.
I think the language at the ending of the poem is both beautiful and poignant: “Let us look forward, let the Spanish moss fall / as we trace our hands along the brick, mortar, / and stone that hold the bittersweet history / of our ancestors who built towards a better world / here, with all of us in it.”
As a university, we strive to teach and instill values of diversity, equity and inclusion in our greater campus community. In so doing, we produce graduates who can truly have an impact on the world and make it more equal – both in philosophy and in practice.
It has been said that Black culture deserves much more than just one month of recognition. I agree fully; Black history should be interwoven into everything we teach about our country’s past. However, at the same time, I hope we can take advantage of this month to stop and reflect – truly reflect – on the countless contributions that Black Americans have made to build our university, to build our city and to build our country.
As Professor Jackson invokes us to do through his poetry, let us run our hands – both literally and figuratively – over the brick, mortar and stone of this university and pay tribute to those many who came before and who helped shape the College of Charleston we all love.
That way, we can all look forward and move forward together.
Andrew T. Hsu, Ph.D.
College of Charleston