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    Alumnus Gives Ignatian Values In Action Lecture

    Author and University of Scranton alumnus Yohuru Williams, Ph.D. ’93 G’93, presented “The Fire This Time: Racial Justice, Catholic Social Teaching, and the Promise of Jesuit Education in the Age of Black Lives Matter,” at The University of Scranton’s Values In Action Lecture on Oct. 4 on campus. The lecture is part of the University’s annual Royal Reads program, which introduces incoming students to Ignatian values through a shared reading experience of a selected book and other programming.
    October 26, 2021
    By: Alison D’Mello ’22, student correspondent

    University of Scranton alumnus and former trustee, Yohuru Williams, Ph.D. ’93 G’93, spoke to members of the University’s class of 2025 about the message of racial justice taken from this year’s Royal Reads assigned book, and how we, as part of a Jesuit institution, are called to do more than just listen.

    Dr. Williams began his talk by referencing this year’s Royal Reads book by James Baldwin, “The Fire Next Time,” saying “Baldwin was writing to his nephew, but he was talking to you … The ‘fire’ was his nephew. The ‘fire’ is you.” With this bold interpretation, he went on to challenge listeners to view their individual efforts as part of a larger community effort toward the common good.

    As is tradition, the Ignatian Values in Action Lecture introduced first-year students at Scranton to core tenets of Jesuit education, as well as the moral and ethical expectations placed upon student and graduates of the University. After connecting Baldwin’s message to 12 Jesuit characteristics, Dr. Williams transposed these ideals onto modern-day issues by identifying ways in which racial issues continue to present themselves today.

    Specifically, Dr. Williams mentioned the killing of George Floyd and included a video clip of the Minneapolis Chief of Police’s reaction to it. Emphasizing that the pursuit of racial justice is a matter of social justice, he went on to identify what makes a Jesuit education stand out.

    “A decision to work with others toward the dismantling of unjust social structures so that the weak, the oppressed, the marginalized of this world may be set free. That’s what you signed up for when you signed on for a Jesuit education,” Dr. Williams said.

    Using Martin Luther King Jr.’s writings on the purpose of education, Dr. Williams further explained to the class of 2025 that as a student of a Jesuit institution, remedying social injustices needs to be at the forefront of their minds, regardless of what major they are pursuing.

    With a final call to reflect on the topics discussed, Williams ended the lecture with a reminder to the audience that “you are the class of 2025, but you are more than that. You are ‘The Fire Next Time.’”

    Also speaking at the Ignatian Values in Action Lecture were Jeff Gingerich, Ph.D., provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, and the student founder of the Louis Stanley Brown Black Student Union at the University, Tiannah Adams of New York, New York.

    The lecture for first-year students took place in the Byron Recreation Complex on campus and was also streamed to several auditoriums on campus for viewing by other students and members of the University community.

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    Alison D’Mello ’22, East Brunswick, New Jersey, is a social media strategies major at The University of Scranton.
    Alison D’Mello ’22, East Brunswick, New Jersey, is a social media strategies major at The University of Scranton.
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