Andrew Gillum Visits SJU With a Message of Inclusion, Resilience and Unity

Thursday, March 7, 2019

by Courtney M. Fowler

"It’s crucial for us to recognize that we share a lot more in common than what separates us."

Former Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum shared his thoughts on living diversity in a speech at Saint Joseph's Cardinal Foley Center as part of the University’s Diversity Lecture Series.The award-winning program, hosted by the Office of Student Inclusion and Diversity began in 2001 and uses outside speakers to engage the entire campus community in conversations about identity and difference.

Gillum’s message throughout the evening was one that emphasized framing diversity as not just an obligatory practice, but one that creates a more culturally enriched environment for all people.

"We need to have people at the table who represent the diversity of life's experiences because there's a good chance that if you don't have a seat at the table, you might be on the menu," he said. 

Gillum is a lifelong public servant and recently ran in the 2018 Florida governor’s race as the Democratic nominee. He is the first African-American in the state to hold the nomination.

Despite his concession at the conclusion of the election with 49.2% of the vote, he continues to inspire others with unique transparency and a mantra that centers around perseverance and presenting your most authentic self without hesitation; a concept which he notes as a crucial aspect of diversity and inclusion.

"Part of what diversity and inclusion means is not setting up these unrealistic expectations and embracing your perceived 'skeletons' as a piece of your whole person," Gillum said. "Once we start to view it from that lens, you realize that diversity shouldn’t be an appendage of your work, but part of the bloodstream of it." 

His words reminded those in attendance that the purpose of inclusion isn’t simply meeting quotas, but instead a practice of embracing our unique differences, and doing so with our entire person.

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