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Editor's Letter - Fall 2020

Follow the Music, Find the Story

WITH CLASSES ONLINE due to the pandemic, the campus has been oddly quiet. I give you this context so you understand why the sound of someone playing the trombone outside caught my attention.

It was evening, late summer, before the September wildfires. My family and I had just finished a picnic dinner on campus. Afterwards we walked near the bluff and looked out over the Willamette River and the shipyard, and we heard the music coming from behind Bauccio Commons. We saw an individual playing trombone, facing out toward Forest Park. My “work hat” wanted to go over and interview him right on the spot. But my “human hat” stopped me in my tracks. I’ve missed listening to live music during these months of the pandemic, the surprise of it, the stretch of it, the emotions music allows me—some - times pushes me—to feel. And so my human hat won the moment; I let my heart dwell in the music. Later, after a little sleuthing and help from our music faculty, I found the student who has been living off campus and some - times comes to The Bluff to play outside.

I hope you don’t miss his reflection at the end of this issue. Listening to music as you read through these pages might not be a bad idea—timone davis’s spiritual essay also uses a song as inspiration— because this issue does ask you to look straight at some tough truths:

In 2018, The Beacon, UP’s award-winning student news - paper, wrote a piece about a Civil Rights Immersion in Montgomery, Alabama, hosted by UP’s Moreau Center for Service and Justice. There was a photo of then-student Taylor Stewart ’18 and the sentence, “Currently, Stewart is working on creating a historical marker in Coos County, Oregon, home to Oregon’s only recorded case of lynching.” I wondered how his work was going, so I reached out.

Two years later we have a story for you, written by Walidah Imarisha, about the racial justice work Stewart has been per - sistently achieving in partnership with the Equal Justice Initiative, the Coos Historical Museum, and the City of Coos Bay. His work memorializes Alonzo Tucker, a man who was a boxer and a mail carrier, also a man who was brutally murdered and lynched in 1902. This truth is a hard truth—about the state of Oregon, its laws, its founding, and about the history and legacy of racism and lynching in this country. Stewart believes that reconciliation and change can only happen when we are honest about the past. The memorial event occurred on February 29, 2020, and a group of us from UP drove to Coos Bay in support of Stewart. His work progresses.

Also in this issue is a beautiful reflec - tion on the newly commissioned icon of the Ugandan Martyrs for the chapel in Shipstad Hall. I called Simon Aihiokhai, UP theology professor, who teaches a class about religious icons, to talk about the new work. He spoke of a whole context for the history of these Catholic martyrs that also included Anglican and Muslim martyrs, and he offered a reflec - tion on his own journey toward “a Christ who finds Blackness as a worthy embodiment of the divine.” Because you can’t come to campus to see this icon for yourself right now, we’re bringing it to you.

You’ll also find our first installment in the Franz River Campus series. This issue focuses on biology professor Katie O’Reilly and her student-researchers’ work to create new habitat for a colony of Purple Martins. I am inspired, not only by the beauty of these birds (and yes, by the chatter of their song), but also by the dedicated professors who are finding and creating research opportu- nities for UP students during these challenging days. The people of this place are remark - able. Do we have work to do to be better, to stretch and improve? Yes, we do. Of course we do. To which I can only say that I hope we continue to do the work.

And finally, if you receive this issue before November 3, a friendly reminder to vote.

— Jessica Murphy Moo

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Fall 2020 cover

Fall 2020

This issue features "The Truth About Alonzo" by Walidah Imarisha about the efforts by Taylor Stewart '18 to memorialize an Oregon man killed by lynching more than 100 years ago; "Don't Sit Down Now That You've Come This Far" by timone davis about not losing hope; "Encounter" by Simonmary Aihiokhai about the Martyrs of Uganda icon in Shipstad Hall's chapel; and "Meet the Martins" by Jessica Murphy Moo about a student-faculty research project on the Franz River Campus.

Read Fall 2020 Issue