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Declaring Support for Diversity and Inclusion

United at the Rock Against RacismSince the beginning of the year, it seems like every time we turn around we have an opportunity to engage in discourse about free speech on campus. As the spring semester moves along, I encourage you to continue in your efforts, both in and out of the classroom, to support diversity and inclusion at UT.

There will be several community opportunities for learning and declaring our support for a diverse, supportive, and inclusive environment on our campus in the next week. We should support free speech while showing disapproval for hate speech in a peaceful and lawful manner. I hope that many of us can turn out for the pro-diversity/civil discourse rallies and leave our external guest to speak to an empty room.

United at The Rock is an opportunity for everyone on campus to take a stand against racism and hate. Hand printing on the Rock starts at 3:30 p.m. tomorrow with the main gathering at 5:30 p.m.

February is also Black History Month, which is another opportunity to engage in discourse about diversity and inclusion. As a college and individual departments, we are hosting several events throughout the month.

A Celebration of the Music and Life of Paul Robeson is a presentation in story and song celebrating Robeson’s many contributions to the music of his own people, spirituals, and international folk music, including the music of endangered Jewish communities in Europe. The event will begin at 3 p.m. Sunday, February 11, at the Tabernacle Baptist Church. Supporters include the College of Arts and Sciences, Tabernacle Baptist Church, Knoxville Jewish Alliance, Frieson Black Cultural Center, Africana Studies Program, Judaic Studies Program, School of Music, and the Departments of History, Religious Studies, Sociology, and Theatre.

Frederick Douglass Day is a national celebration of Douglass’s 200th birthday. The Department of English will host an event, including cake and refreshments, in conjunction with the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. The celebration kicks off at noon Wednesday, February 14, in the library.

There are several other events on campus during Black History Month. Please visit the UT Events Calendar for a complete list and encourage your students and colleagues to attend.

Thank you for your dedication to civility and discourse at UT.


Theresa M. Lee
Dean, College of Arts & Sciences