May. 31, 2020

Dear St. Edward’s University Community,

I’ve been asked from time to time why I frequently talk about understanding the meaning of social justice as one of the goals St. Edward’s has in educating all of our students. To explain, I remind my audience of the Catholic, Holy Cross origins of the university and the religious mission bequeathed to us by Blessed Basil Moreau, CSC, the founder of the Holy Cross Congregation.

A definition of social justice can be found in Matthew, Chapter 22, where Jesus said: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.’ ” 

Fundamental to the founding of our nation was the concept of equality. The Declaration of Independence declares that all are created equal and entitled to certain inalienable rights. Much work lay ahead as our country initiated its efforts to realize its lofty goals, the abolition of slavery, the right of women to vote, citizenship and voting rights for African Americans, among them.

As the videos of recent events demonstrate, much more needs to be done, and done with a sense of urgency. Justice cries out for equality. It cannot exist if laws favor some over others. It is eroded every time a law applies to some members of society and not to others. It is undermined every time human rights are violated in the process of law enforcement.

Statistics tell a similar story. African Americans in particular, but also other minorities, are victims of systemic racism. The evidence is provided in the rates of incarceration, the disproportionate number of deaths reported in health care reports, and in unemployment and low-income rates.

I encourage students, faculty and staff to reach out to one another and to avail themselves of the resources provided by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Campus Ministry, and the Office of Human Resources. I urge all members of the extended St. Edward’s family to make their voices heard. Write to your elected officials. Join with professional and civic organizations in demanding change. Reach out to offer assistance. March peacefully to show your concern. History has shown that the journey to fairness, equality and true justice will be long and difficult and require continuous vigilance; but, to quote former President Obama, we need “to work together to create a ‘new normal’ in which the legacy of bigotry and unequal treatment no longer infects our institutions or our hearts.”

With prayers and continued hope in the Cross,

George E. Martin, Ph.D.