The following letter was distributed by William M. Galloway, the Head of School at the Watershed School in Camden:
Dear Watershed Students, Families, Faculty, and Board,
Watershed stands in solidarity with those protesting the racial injustice and police brutality the world has witnessed; and although this letter does not erase the horror, the pain, the anger and frustration experienced by so many Black Americans, it does represent our commitment as an educational institution to examine our own institutional practices, strengthen our social contract as engaged citizens, and affirm our bond with one another across the globe as moral beings.
The legacy of suffering under slavery goes back centuries in time, was incorporated into our Constitution in 1789, and despite our Civil War and the 13th, 14th , and 15th amendments, institutional racism endured when the Reconstruction era failed to secure the equal rights of citizenship for all. In the words of Frederick Douglass, “Though slavery was abolished, the wrongs of my people were not ended.” ¹
Racial injustice and police brutality persist despite the gains over the last century to make real the words of racial equality and equal protection of the laws. Civil rights leaders and movements have strengthened our resolve as citizens, for we share in the social contract of the Constitution.
Struggling to find our way forward, I am reminded of the philosopher, Ludwig Wittgenstein, who emphasized that, “The question is not, WHERE do we go from here, but rather HOW do we go forward together?”
The path to sustainable reconciliation in this divided society² of ours requires that we face the truth, administer justice, and open ourselves to forgiveness, for only then can we realize the benefits of peace. To that end, we must acknowledge openly and examine closely the presence of institutional racism in our community, exercise compassion for and demonstrate understanding of the pain these events bring to us all as connected beings, and develop the means by which our society can make things right for individuals who have suffered, and ultimately implement reforms that bring about meaningful and lasting change in our society.
Together, we must be committed to breaking the cycle of violence by reaffirming our social contract that is our constitution and holding our leaders and our police accountable for their actions.
At Watershed, we will re-examine any signs of institutional racism that might exist in our organizational practices, redesign our academic program to expand diversity in our course offerings and hiring practices, and continue our work to break down economic barriers for anyone seeking an independent high school experience.
Last week, I wrote to you that “the storms raging in the streets...and the voices of protest around the globe represent bold affirmations of who we are and what we stand for.” As members of the Watershed School community, as citizens of the United States, and as moral beings who share time and space with one another on this Earth, let us strive on to finish the work of ending institutional racism and police brutality.
William M. Galloway
Head of School