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Landon Laven Jones '09 on a hammock


Jones is a special assistant with the Executive Office of the Mayor of Washington D.C.

In 2020, we are still celebrating firsts. More personal to the reader, our alma mater is celebrating our first Black and woman president.

This first of many to be revered, firsts celebrated long before, and firsts that will never be celebrated.

I wonder what Jean Baptiste Point DuSable, founder of Chicago, would have thought of this moment in 1780. I wonder what this moment would have meant to Matthew Simpson, anti-slavery advocate and DePauw University’s first president in 1839. I wonder what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would have spoken about at Gobin Memorial United Methodist Church, had he had this knowledge in 1960.

I wonder about the surprise and pride that George Floyd and his daughter Gianna would have felt in 2031, walking through our campus, entering a building named after Percy Julian and another named after Dorothy Brown, and learning that DePauw has a Black woman as president. The first. I wonder how often, in 2035, he would have had to catch his breath between tears as she strutted across the stage.

I abandon wonder, wander back to reality. Alas, racism did not allow that for George, as it has not allowed so much. The safety and tradition of white supremacy has proven to be a foundation too important. Resistance to independence – in layman’s terms, change – is the ways of white folks. This moment is not new, nor is the desire to be rid of its oppression.

I find comfort in defying oppression and being rid of it before my own death.

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