On this day, November 9, 2016, following the election of Donald Trump, Evanston Township High School (ETHS) Superintendent Dr. Eric Witherspoon made this announcement to students over the school's PA system.
Chicago Tribune columnist Heidi Keibler Stevens wrote about the announcement after Dear Evanston posted it and it went viral, reaching more than 60,000 people.
Here's what Dr. Witherspoon said:
"Good morning, E-Town –
This is Dr. Witherspoon.
This morning I want to remind all of you that ETHS is a safe and welcoming place for you. You attend a school where we not only respect differences, we embrace our diversity.
We embrace one another’s race and ethnicity. We embrace one another’s family background, heritage, language and culture.
We embrace one another’s religion and your right to your own personal customs and beliefs.
We embrace your sexual orientation and your gender identity.
We embrace your special needs.
We embrace you and value you as individual human beings.
Never forget: you belong here at ETHS—each and every one of you.
Today, I urge you to be kind and caring to one another. Redouble your support for one another. And even though we cannot always control what is going on in the larger world around us, we can define our own school, our own community.
Let’s make this school year a year of strengthening our sense of community here at ETHS, and let’s reaffirm a community legacy for all the students today and for those who will follow you at ETHS.
The sun is shining today. Your school is a nurturing place for you to learn and grow. Your futures are bright.
Let’s protect and take care of each other. Everything is going to be okay.
I love all of you. Fill your hearts with love for each other. And no matter what, remember, even today, that it is a great day to be a Wildkit."
EDITED TO ADD:
Three years later, hate crimes and hate in general are way up. Just yesterday, Block Club Chicago reported that hate crime reports rose by 60 percent in Chicago since last year. Sixty. Percent.
And Evanston/Skokie School District 65 sent a letter to families yesterday to report that letters saying "White N-word matter" have been sent over the past few weeks via US mail to Kingsley Elementary, Park School, and the JEH Education Center and as recently as yesterday.
The seething underbelly of this country has been unleashed. Dr. Witherspoon's words are more important now than ever.