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ICC President’s Open Letter to the ICC Community

Dear ICC Community,

At our Town Hall last Friday, I ended with a not so subtle reference to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as I shared my dream for ICC in a post COVID-19 pandemic environment. I was dreaming of how we could serve our students and our community in innovative ways previously never envisioned. Acknowledging how you accomplished so much more than you ever dreamed this past semester, I imagined how much farther we could go in service to our community; how ICC would be here, as we always have been, yet bringing increased opportunity and success to all of our students.

Simultaneously, the past week brought other reasons to reflect on the leadership of Dr. King as racism proved itself again to be a raging plague, far more impactful than any pandemic, as it has been for decades. Watching the George Floyd video brought me to a place where the pain, trauma and hopelessness was overwhelming. Even more heinous is the fact that racism continues to plague our economic, health care, educational, and justice systems. Our infected community and nation will never be healthy and can never heal until racism is effectively eradicated. The reference to Dr. King’s vision is no longer subtle.

I want our African American students and employees of color to know that you are a vital part of our institution and community. We cannot claim success without your success and we will continue to work to implement an equity agenda that assures the success of everyone regardless of differences in race, sex, age, ethnicity, range of abilities, sexual orientation, gender identity, financial means, education, and political perspective. In turbulent times, education and knowledge are critical to positive change. Our mission is to change lives.

We all need to ask ourselves how we can leverage our particular connections and talents to make a positive difference in our community. Just as our student, Autumn Cain, and many other young, impressive Peoria leaders did in orchestrating a peaceful and meaningful protest last Saturday. These young leaders deserve our respect and are critical examples of the commitment and courage our community requires.

From our Peoria Summit on Racial Justice and Equity held last summer to the Workforce Equity Initiative launched last fall and Discussion Circles on Racial Justice and Equity conducted this spring, ICC has been striving to close educational gaps, identify disparities, and pave the way for greater success for all students. Still, it is not enough, and we welcome your continued participation in moving forward an equity agenda for the college.

Let us continue the work of addressing generations of racism and injustice, of seeking ways to approach one another with respect, and building communities that are truly safe, inclusive and offer opportunity for all. We will join with our community partners and bring increased opportunity to our African American community, so it is no longer characterized as a place of racial and socio-economic disparity.

This has been a historic year in so many ways. I dream that we will all come together and let 2020 be the year we create the vaccine to eradicate the plague of racism in our community and our nation.

All the best always,