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ecf stands with d65 and dr horton

July 16, 2021 | ECF Press Release

On July 16, 2021 Sol Anderson, ECF President and CEO, wrote to the Evanston community in support of District 65's anti-racist efforts. 

ECF stands firm in our commitment to the work of community-wide equity. 

letter

To my fellow Evanstonians,

Since June 21 of this year, when I returned to Evanston in a professional capacity and stepped into the role of President & CEO of the Evanston Community Foundation, I have felt a tremendous pride in being part of this community. Though I have either lived or worked here for the past 15 years, June 21 was an important moment in my “Evanston experience.” I have received congratulatory calls, emails, notes, and even conversations with passersby while I walked or drove down the street. I realized that, after all this time, Evanston was truly my home. I felt the community open up its arms to me. I felt welcome.

Nothing can shake that feeling for me, but recent events have brought very different feelings to the forefront. When I was first made aware of the recent lawsuit against District 65 and Superintendent Devon Horton, in response to D65’s work to create an equitable and anti-racist learning environment for Evanston’s children, I was taken aback. I felt grave concern, in large part because the support for this suit is being supported by an outside organization that wants to dismantle equity work across the nation. When I later heard of the threats of violence and acts of vandalism committed against Dr. Horton and members of the District 65 board, I was angered and saddened. I am still wrestling with all of those emotions, but – because this is my home – it is important to me to push through them and say what needs to be said. 

Let me first make it 100% clear that the Evanston Community Foundation supports Dr. Horton, D65, and the D65 School Board’s anti-racist efforts, and we reject the notion that these efforts are discriminatory. A quick look at the basic demographic information of D65 shows that we are a community of significant diversity. And because our children all come together in the halls of D65’s 18 school communities, and again at ETHS, it is imperative that they understand that they did not all come together through the same history. All of our children should understand that racism, discrimination, and marginalization have been hallmarks of the histories – and present-day experiences – of many of their classmates. Education should be a quest for knowledge and truth, and the truth is that our entire nation must come to terms with the racism that underpins many of our institutions.

But while I vehemently disagree with the motivation behind the lawsuit, I must make a distinction between that and the threats and acts of violence against these D65 leaders who are also members of our community. Filing a lawsuit is one thing. For better or for worse that is the process that we have available to handle disputes of this nature in our society. Attacking the safety and well-being of another human being, however, has no place in our community. Violence and cowardice of that type have no place in any civil society. Dr. Horton is my brother, not just because we are both Black men leading important community institutions in Evanston, but because he also has chosen to make Evanston a part of his life and is giving his energy to do what he believes will make Evanston the best place it can possibly be. But whether you agree with Dr. Horton or not is irrelevant in this moment; Evanston simply cannot stand for these attacks against him and his colleagues.

President John F. Kennedy once said, paraphrasing the Gospel of Luke, “[f]or of those to whom much is given much is required.” Much has been given to us, Evanston. We are a community of natural beauty, we are home to a population of people with a beautiful array of backgrounds and identities, we have world class educational institutions, and we live with a sense of general safety and security that many others envy. We have been given all that, and now it is time to do what is required of us. What is required of Evanston in this moment is to stand up, not only to say that we as a community believe that everyone here deserves to live in a society that is diverse, inclusive, and equitable, but to say that even in our moments of disagreement we must disagree without violence. 

What is required of the Evanston Community Foundation right now is that we stand firm in our commitment to the work of community-wide equity. We will stand beside Dr. Horton, D65, and anyone else in our community who is working toward equity. We will not be pushed off this course by those who choose to use violence and intimidation tactics to get their point across or by the entities from outside of our community who are supporting an attack on the very idea of equity itself. If anything, these acts prove the necessity of our work. If anything, our resolve has been deepened by this moment.

Because I have no doubt that all of you who truly love this community will also redouble your efforts in this regard, I want to thank you. Thank you for helping us to ensure that Evanston is vibrant, inclusive, and equitable – now and forever.

Yours in community,

Sol Anderson