From Maria Palmer.
Last weekend I participated in the innagural WW Finlator Lectures in Faith & Social Justice at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh. The church Bill Finlator pastored for 3 decades celebrated his legacy as one of the great American prophets of the 20th Century. Thank you, Pullen, for an inspiring weekend and for reminding us that we have so much work to do.
It is easy for us privileged Chapel Hillians to think that our actions are always consistent with the highest ethical standards. We don’t break the law. We recycle. We donate money to great causes. I am sure, many of us also pray for justice and for the poor on a regular basis.
But justice is NOT like the climate, something we can call “an act of God.” Justice (or injustice) is the result of our collective decisions. Bill Finlator reminded us that the Bible calls us to DO justice. When we fail to protect women and girls from sexual violence; when one third of our county’s residents are low-income and thousands are uninsured; when one in five children in Orange Co. are living in poverty, I think we may be failing to DO justice.
As we welcome Chancellor Carol Folt, I take hope. After all, UNC president Tom Ross has said she meets his criteria of “unwavering integrity” and somewone who will “always stand for what is right.”
What is right, Dr. Folt, is leading UNC and the community in doing justice. What is right, is paying UNC workers a living wage, what is right is protecting women—students and employees—against abuse and sexual violence. What is right is celebrating and thanking whistle-blowers, not harassing or firing them. They are the heroes who will make our University great. What is right is mobilizing the brain power of our expert Educators to close the achievement gap in our schools. What is right is giving the children of our lowest-paid workers access to the resources of our great university for tutoring, to attend summer programs and enrichment opportunities that bring wealthy children from across the US to our campus. What is right is giving poor children in our community the help they need so that they can attend UNC, not because they pulled themselves up but their non-existent bootstraps, but because the University refused to stand by while children of color are channeled into a permanent underclass. What is right, Dr. Folt, is to find a way to provide adequate health care and transportation for the workers in this community that will make it possible for you to do great things.
Chancellor Folt. Welcome to Chapel Hill. We expect great things from you!