Dear Friends and Colleagues,
In the wavering arc of our nation’s history, it is a long way from the Declaration of Independence’s bold statements of equality, to the Emancipation Proclamation, to the civil rights legislation of the 1960’s, whose protections were only this week assured for LGBTQ+ people, to the Black Lives Matter movement.
On this Juneteenth, to help us reflect on this arc, a found poem by Tracy K. Smith, that uses the words of the Declaration:
Sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people
He has plundered our----
destroyed the lives of our---
taking away our---
abolishing our most valuable---
and altering fundamentally the Forms of our---
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for
Redress in the most humble terms:
Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury.
We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration
And settlement here
On the high Seas
May this powerful poem aid in that reflection.
Executive Vice President and Provost
Val Nolan Professor of Law