Foster’s history should be remembered

Letter to the Editor

In the summer of 1933, Tuscaloosa endured various racially motivated lynchings, making it one of the most dangerous cities in America. The Tuscaloosa News reported that “the eyes of the world” were upon us and asked citizens if they were willing to “accept the challenge” of reinventing their home.

They did.

Over three-quarters of a century later, with the eyes of the world upon us once more, it is up to us to decide how we are to proceed.

As we begin pondering to what degree we will commemorate Foster Auditorium, there are several factors to be taken into consideration.

First, the manner in which we choose to act will undoubtedly set the tone for our university’s future. Will we be remembered as the institution that created roadblocks toward achieving racial integration, or the place where the country learned to heal?

Rather than viewing Wallace’s stand as a great stain on our school, allow us to utilize it as an opportunity to respond proactively, taking pride in the university’s ability to respond righteously and courageously today.

Of course, there are those who prefer to deny our past, but by denying it, we make ourselves accomplices to the transgressions. Further, there are those who believe that by drawing attention to Foster Auditorium, we merely reopen old wounds. But how can a wound be reopened if it has never fully healed?

Our country maintains a sacred tradition of honoring hallowed ground rather than forsaking it. Consider Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address on the blood-soaked battlefield, or more recently, our tribute to 9/11. As a people, we prefer to memorialize events rather than forget them, and for good reason—our history deserves it.

The University has been given the chance to walk boldly into the future. By commemorating Foster Auditorium with the dignity it deserves, not only will it serve as a testament to our commitment to equality, but also, prove to the world exactly who we are and what we stand for.

At this pivotal juncture in our school’s history, perhaps it is important to ask ourselves if we want to be remembered for acknowledging a difficult truth or burying it beneath the brick and mortar.

Either we move forward with conviction or backward in disgrace.

This University has taught us many lessons.

We ask only that it teach us one more.

B.J. Hollars is a graduate student in English.