Impromptu Exhibit at SU's Bird Library Showcases Documents Promoting Equality, Peace, and Compassion

Aug 18, 2017

A glimpse of some of the materials put on display on Friday at SU's Bird Library. Copyright prevents closer photographs of the documents.
Credit Bridget McAllister / WAER News

The tradition of progress and equality in Central New York is providing guidance in a dark moment gripping our nation.  Syracuse University’s Bird Library Friday hosted an impromptu showcase of rare documents, photographs, and other materials celebrating the work of activists and revolutionaries like Susan B. Anthony, Martin Luther King, and Gandhi.  While library exhibits usually take a year to prepare, Special Collections Research Senior Director Lucy Mulroney says recent events caused staff to organize the showcase in only a day.

"People dropped everything they were doing, we went through the collections, pulled what we could.  It's not our typical exhibit, but we felt it was important to do this," Mulroney said.

"We are always looking for ways so showcase our rare materials," said SU Dean of Libraries David Seaman.  "This was a wonderful opportunity to give the community to look at things in our collections here that speak to equality and peace."

Community members glance through the rare materials.
Credit Bridget McAllister / WAER News

"The university needed to make an affirmation about what happened in Charlottesville," said Special Collections Curator William LaMoy.  "We select material based on content for such purposes.  This was all chosen very specifically in response to what happened."

"Part of the reason why I love this city so much is because of its legacy," Mulroney said.  Things like the Jerry Rescue, and people like Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass who came through this city.  The Onondaga... remembering all of those individuals who stood for non-violence and peaceful resistance is important.  I wanted to step back and reflect on these individuals."

Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud issued a statement to faculty and students Friday condemning hate speech and encouraging diversity and acceptance.  The complete message is below:

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff:

Like many of you, I watched events in Charlottesville last weekend with dismay, especially given the numerous connections between Syracuse University and the University of Virginia. That dismay has increased each day this week. During this difficult and painful time, Syracuse University extends its thoughts, prayers, and sympathy to all in Charlottesville in the face of their loss and pain and exposure to hate and violence.

In a week, we will formally welcome thousands of new members to our Orange community in Syracuse and in Syracuse University programs around the world. They come from every state in the nation, Puerto Rico, Washington, D.C., and more than 70 countries. They are of all races, identities, religions, and political beliefs. In anticipation of their arrival, there are some things that we need to say to all of them about the Syracuse community:

1. Syracuse University clearly and emphatically rejects white supremacist groups and the hateful ideology they profess—ideology whose history, in the U.S. and abroad, leads to terrible outcomes for all people.

2. Syracuse University reaffirms its core values of including all in our community as Orange, and of respecting the diversity of all people who make this University so strong.

3. Syracuse University believes in free speech and nonviolent discourse, even when that speech makes some uncomfortable. That right, however, comes with a responsibility on each of us as citizens of this community to speak up responsibly when fundamental values or the safety of individuals is threatened.

4. The citizens of this community include everyone who is part of Syracuse University. We are all Orange. This means everyone’s views and traits are valued and respected.

Syracuse University is not always perfect in living up to our values—no place this big could be. Yet I have been deeply impressed by how hard so many here work to do so in a sustained way. Now more than ever, we must continue to voice these values of inclusion on behalf of all our new members of our community. Thank you for your commitment to sharing and reinforcing this important message.

Sincerely,

Chancellor Kent Syverud