July 18, 2020
Dear Members of the Hobart and William Smith Community,
Last night, our nation lost an icon, a man who dedicated his life to the Civil Rights Movement and to the betterment of our country, who suffered immeasurable hardships as a result, and who persevered with passion, tenacity and integrity. We also lost one of our own. In 2007, Congressman John Lewis gave the Convocation Address at Hobart and William Smith Colleges where he also received the President’s Medal from President Emeritus Mark D. Gearan L.H.D. ’17, P’21.
Someone shared with me that Lewis made comments at the dinner and reception following that Convocation ceremony, and those comments struck a chord with me given the conversations in our community. Lewis said: “I have been all over this country to speak at colleges and universities, and let me tell you, there is a sense of community here that I have not seen elsewhere. Walk tall. Walk with the wind. Let the spirit of these Colleges be your guide.… Today’s experience has been like being at the top of the mountain – now tomorrow morning I have to return to the valley because there is still work to do.”
As we reflect on his life, I pledge that as an institution of higher education, that we will continue the work of John Lewis. We will not allow his decades of effort against racism to be in vain. The best way for us to honor him will be for us to continue his work for justice and equality.
Our campus flag will remain at half-mast in his memory.
Joyce P. Jacobsen