–by Jonathan Camp, Cliff Barbarick, Orneita Burton, Kelly Elliott, Doug Foster, Suzie Macaluso, Victor McCracken, Ronald J. (Ron) Morgan, Dan Morrison, Jerry Andrew Taylor
Carl Spain’s 1960 speech denouncing racist admission policies at Abilene Christian College is now widely celebrated in the ACU community. This seminal moment is enshrined on the photographic timeline in the lobby of Hunter Welcome Center, and it is featured in The ACU Century coffee table book. But Spain wasn’t the only voice calling the university to account. Months before, a group of his students requested a meeting with President Morris to question the racist admission policies and insist on integration of ACC.
Alexandria Buller’s letter to the editor places her in good company. Throughout our history, many of our students have connected deeply with our mission and insist we live up to the best of our Christian ideals. We need to listen to these students and develop a response that institutes meaningful and substantive change. We must welcome the moral clarity they offer because, just like Spain’s students in the 1950s, they are free from the power attachments and status quo pressures that often influence our own discernment.
We applaud ACU’s stated commitment to racial inclusion and cultural competence, as reflected in the third goal of the Strategic Plan. Recent months have seen significant strides. The recently launched Carl Spain Center on Race Studies and Spiritual Action is taking bold steps to bridge racial divides. The university provided significant support with the new book, Slavery’s Long Shadow, which was written to supplement the undergraduate survey course in American History and religion. A group of faculty have been working on a Maymester course on Civil Rights that includes a tour through the Deep South. Starting this fall, the History and Global Studies department will offer a new interdisciplinary minor Gender and Multicultural Studies. These efforts are important, but further action is needed.
Alexandria’s letter represents many of our top students who are calling for Kingdom level strides toward inclusion, equity, and cultural competence. We agree with her call to strengthen curriculum with new courses, both in general education and within specific degree plans, which will strengthen the University’s goal for racial and ethnic inclusion and cultural competence for all students. We also call for strategic faculty hires and increased diversity in our administration to support this goal.