A Letter from the Ridley Scholarship Fund Board of Directors
Dear University Community:
By now you are well aware of the tragic events that occurred in Charlottesville over the weekend. Anger, disgust and sadness are among the emotions many of us felt as we watched these events unfold in real time. Anger that the removal of a statue was used as a pretext for Klan, Neo-Nazi and white nationalist protesters to foment violence by word and deed against counter protesters and the broader Charlottesville community; disgust that such activity, rather than being in the rear-view mirror of history is, instead, front, center and growing in the 21st century; and sadness that these events have somehow become connected to the University of Virginia or are somehow representative of the climate or culture at the University. To state that the board of the Ridley Family of Funds condemns these events and the people behind them is to state a truism. They are completely antithetical to our mission, they are diametrically opposed to the values of the University, and they are un-American.
We fully support the condemnations of this weekend’s events by University officials. We also understand that the University, as a public institution, is somewhat hampered in its ability to prevent events of the kind that occurred Friday night on the Lawn. But for our constituents, it is not enough to cite the First Amendment as the reason why such events cannot be prevented. To be clear, we are not interested in silencing those who express viewpoints we find odious. Indeed, to paraphrase Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis, sunlight is the best of disinfectants. But from our perspective, marching on the Lawn with torches while shouting racial epithets is a de facto violent event. We need not bring up ugly analogs in American history to reinforce this point. We call on the University, the City of Charlottesville, and the Commonwealth of Virginia to marshal their respective legal and law enforcement resources to find ways to prevent such activities on Grounds in the future.
Despite this weekend’s horrors, we state in no uncertain terms that the forces at play in these events will not deter us in our mission to bring the best and brightest African-American students to Charlottesville. We have no intention of allowing anyone to “take us back” to some romanticized period of history. We will not be marginalized or intimidated inside or outside of Charlottesville. We stand firm in rebuking all those who would try to stall or destroy our progress at the University and beyond. And we loudly proclaim that while there is still work to do, these events in no way, shape or form represent the student experience at the University or in Charlottesville.
To our Ridley Scholars, current and prospective students and their parents: we have your back. You have a broad network of alumni, faculty and administrators who support you and are committed to your safety and success. We will continue to welcome you with open arms and help you find your rightful place at the University.
The Ridley Scholarship Fund Board of Directors
Brandon Woods ’03, Vice Chair
Beverly Allen ’88, 2nd Vice Chair
Stefanie Morgan-Davis ’92, Treasurer
Tom Baker ’79
Javona Braxton ’99
Crystal Brown ’95
Bryon Grant ’93
Consuelo Kendall ’03
Chris Langhorne ’99, ’05
Hosea Mitchell ’81
Bryan Myers ’09
John Newby ’04
The Ridley Scholarship Family of Funds seeks to attract and retain the nation’s most meritorious African-American students to the University of Virginia.
Watch Ridley Scholars share their own reasons why your support of the Ridley Scholarship Fund helps attract the nation’s most accomplished and well-rounded African-American scholars to the University of Virginia.