Dear Berkeley Journalism Community,
I write to you as we mourn the death of one of our greatest fighters for racial justice, Representative John Lewis. To our Black students, our BIPOC students, and our entire journalism community, let me say that we will hold on tightly to the memory of Rep. Lewis’s courageous life, and it will renew our commitment to work tirelessly to create a more equitable school—and world.
“Wake up America. Wake up. For we cannot stop, and we will not and cannot be patient,” Rep. Lewis told the crowd of 250,000 people gathered at the March on Washington. The words he spoke at the age of 23 are as resonant today as when he delivered them in 1963. In recent weeks, he was heartened by the diversity of people protesting around the country to end police brutality against Black Americans. We are heartened at Berkeley Journalism by the diversity of members of our community demanding we do better against systemic anti-Black and other forms of racism. Let me pledge once again that we are committed, on behalf of our school and in memory of fighters like Rep. Lewis, to do far, far better.
I write to you as armed federal agents are arresting peaceful protestors in the city of Portland. I believe I speak for all of us when I renew our commitment as journalists to fearlessly bear witness to such moments to ensure that the whole world knows what is happening on the streets of the country that calls itself, “the land of the free.”
When news of John Lewis’s passing was made public Friday, I happened to be watching the documentary ‘Good Trouble‘ about his life. Directed by Dawn Porter, the talented Black filmmaker who taught at our school two years ago, the documentary also involved two of our graduates, Bo Kovitz (’19) and Isara Krieger (’17). ‘Good Trouble’ is one of the most inspiring documentaries I have ever seen, and I want to urge you to watch it.
With John Lewis’s courageous life as our inspiration, let’s forge ahead in the coming months to strengthen and transform Berkeley Journalism to send forth the best trained and most diverse group of journalists as the revealers of truth and injustice in our deeply troubled world.