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Our Common Humanity

"We are all bound up together in one great bundle of humanity,” wrote abolitionist Frances E.W. Harper, one of the first Black women to be published in the U.S., “and society cannot trample on the weakest and feeblest of its members without receiving the curse in its own soul.”

When I first saw Leandre K. Jackson ’75’s photo of three boys playing by the water’s edge, it startled me with its quiet. Some of the most blissful moments of parenthood unfold while watching your children playing by the sea, so purposefully in tune with its beauty. But the edge of the ocean is dangerous — a wave could come; the water will get deep. Be careful. Come away from the waves! How perfectly this scene unintentionally captured the vulnerability of Black American children today, and the wound that has never healed in this country.

In “Waves of Change,” we investigate a way forward during a moment of national reckoning on race, as we have witnessed death in real time and the rage that it brings forth when justice is left to float out into the wind, seemingly uncatchable. Swarthmore alumni who have committed their work, research, and lives to enacting real societal change tell us how to begin again as a country and how it starts by naming the crime of slavery. 

As the world continues its war against a virus that seems to lurk in every corner, COVID-19 has now killed more than 170,000 Americans and infected about 5 million since March.

In “A Virus Like No Other,” we learn what we knew would happen — Swarthmoreans arrived early to the battle and are working together in ways small and large to heal the suffering the pandemic has wrought. 

In “Community Voices,” Bennett Lorber ’64, H’96, the Thomas M. Durant Emeritus Professor of Medicine and Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at Temple University School of Medicine, offers embers of hope in this storm: Our common humanity is our saving grace. We can make it better, says Lorber. In this Bulletin, and around the world, Swarthmoreans continue to shine the light.