May 30, 2020: We envisioned this date as marking the wind down of UCLA’s year-long Centennial Celebration. The Alumni Association Board of Directors was to have its final board meeting of the year, which would have been followed by the annual Alumni Awards dinner at the Luskin Center.
No one could have imagined what would happen in the Spring of 2020 that would so drastically impact the end of our Centennial Celebration, and our lives. Worldwide pandemic, safer-at-home orders, marginalization of those in poverty, the continuous attacks on Black lives, protests, threats of violence, curfews, and the list goes on.
As a human being, I am heartbroken, disappointed, and angry. As a mother, I am petrified. Petrified of the world in which my son will grow to be a man. What happens to the lessons that I try to teach of treating everyone with dignity and respect? What happens to the lessons of treating everyone with compassion and kindness?
While I might be petrified, I will not remain frozen in inaction. Instead, I submit, that it is only those lessons of treating others with dignity and respect, compassion and kindness, that will pull us out of the destruction and despair. This is what humanity has done time and time again, although not everlasting and never fully resolving the root causes of the inequality we see. This is something that we must work at day in and day out. We need constant reminders, and we cannot operate in a vacuum divorced from our nation’s history.
This is what we do as Bruins, as optimists, and as realists who see what is going on in the world around us. We address issues head on, not with antagonism, but with dignity, respect, compassion, kindness, and a drive to move us forward to a better society for us all. From the freedom riders who departed UCLA in 1961, to the gatherings to support and hear a civil rights icon, Martin Luther King Jr., when he visited our campus, to working to build community in a time of war and the civil rights movement with the formation of Dinners for 12 Strangers, to working to end apartheid in South Africa. We come together to collectively address injustice; to support one another in the continuous battle for equality. This is what we will continue to do. We will come together, as Bruins, for the broader community, to serve as not only an example of the collective good we can achieve, but as partners who will work to build community that goes beyond UCLA so that we can better the world for everyone.
The events of this time are a call to action for us all. How will you contribute to the collective community building that we so desperately need? Get involved in whatever way you are comfortable, whether that be via peaceful protest, organizing community forums, providing much-needed support of communities at the heart of the current struggles, or providing legal aid. We must not be silent. For it is only when people of good will fall silent that evil can flourish.
Our networks and campus partners are in the planning stages and will need our support when those plans are announced. Please do what you can to support, whether that be by participating or spreading the word.
Cheryl M. Lott ’01, J.D. ’04
UCLA Alumni Association