AARS Urgency of Now Initiative

November 1, 2020

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, we have convened a task force of Association of American Rhodes Scholars (AARS) board members and scholars to address systemic racism. We are using the title ‘Urgency of Now’, a term Martin Luther King used in his I Have A Dream speech, as it is at once inspiring and apt:
 
We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.
 
Over the past few months this task force is focused on two broad goals: enacting change (locally and globally) and educating the AARS community. These twin goals of enacting change within our community and inspiring our fellow Rhodes to be agents of change remain our priorities into the foreseeable future.

The task force has organized a speaker series, bringing together virtual talks with leaders, authors, and academics who can offer insight on the subject of systemic racism and how to address it. This series has included:

  • A live interview with Maxine Williams (Commonwealth Caribbean & St. Catherine’s, 1992), the Global Chief Diversity Officer at Facebook on September 3rd. 
  • A conversation between Eric Foner and Randall Kennedy (DC/Maryland & Balliol 1977) on the subject "What Can History Tell Us About This Moment?," moderated by Camille Borders (Ohio & Magdalen 2018) on October 11th.

Future talks will feature Kurt Schmoke, Leana Wen, Sherrylin Iffill, and others. Stay tuned!  

In addition to events, the task force is drafting an advocacy agenda with goals such as improving representation of black and POC on the AARS Board of Directors as well as increasing the pipeline and success of diverse applicants for the scholarship through an Ambassador’s program that conducts outreach to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
 
We welcome your assistance and participation. If you would like to learn more, please reach out to any of the members listed below.
 
Kind regards,
 
The AARS Urgency of Now Task Force
James Basker* (Oregon and Christ Church ’76)
George Keys (Maryland/DC and Balliol ’70)
Nnenna Lynch*, Chair (New York and St John’s ‘93)
Anea Moore (Pennsylvania and Green Templeton 2019)
Ashley Orr* (Ohio and St John's 2016)
Emmy Probasco* (Maryland/DC and Wolfson 2002)
Jessica Wamala (New Hampshire and Balliol 2014)
Anea Moore (Pennsylvania & Green Templeton 2019)
Chelsea Jackson (Georgia & New College 2018)

*AARS Board members