Editor’s Note: We regret the use of the phrase “companion piece” in an earlier version of this story. We regularly post on our website and in social media commentary or media mentions of Furman faculty, staff, students and alumni as a way to celebrate their work and ideas. Our intention in posting Justin King’s op-ed was to ensure that we provided the same opportunity for his commentary, even if it pointed out areas in which our university must improve, including how we address racial justice. Without sharing the content of Justin King’s op-ed, the Greenville Journal invited President Davis to submit a column to run in the same issue, and the publication made the decision to run them together in its printed edition and on its website. We offer this only as an explanation, understanding there is much we need to learn and do to be a better university.
In a guest column in The Greenville Journal, Justin King ’11 wrote that “The death of George Floyd has demonstrated that systemic racism is still deeply ingrained within American society.”
King wrote about explicit racism and implicit bias he experienced as a student at Furman University. For years, he wrote, he repressed memories of repeated trauma he endured as a Black man. While the university has “made some significant strides to address its legacy of racism, … there is still more the administration needs to do.
“As an alumnus, it is my duty to hold the university to account for continuing to build a community that resembles the best of our values, while unapologetically rooting out those harmful attitudes that will cause that community to rot. Only by doing this can we unlock an even stronger, more understanding and compassionate Furman experience for future Black Paladins beginning their academic journey.”