I would like to respond to the Arizona Daily Wildcat's staff editorial, "Hargrove's actions require apology" (Oct. 17), as well as Tom Wentzel's cartoon (Oct. 16). I was not only disappointed to read these articles but was disturbed to learn that our editorial student leaders and the satirist have seriously erred in their understanding of what occurred. The Wildcat has gone too far across the lines of responsible journalism. You have obviously been misled by the Arizona Daily Star.
The Wildcat did not interview me nor did you verify the information you received from the Arizona Daily Star. So permit me to clarify some of the information which you excluded from your articles and commentary.
The letter sent by me in August 1995 to the eight community members was a follow-up memorandum for a program developed nearly two years ago as a joint endeavor sponsored by the University of Arizona African American Cultural Resource Center and the Tucson African American community.
The activity is titled "The Tucson African American Family Reunion," a week-long festival in celebration of the contributions of African Americans, much like the recent Anne Frank exhibit. Similar observances exist in such cities as Los Angeles, Richmond, and Chicago, where it is called "The Black Family Reunion."
The Arizona Daily Star took the letter I sent to their editor, Steve Auslander, out of context and portrayed it as a solicitation for a private event sponsored by me. In reality, it was an outline of the proposed joint venture based on information derived from community input as well as my own. As assistant dean for African American Student Affairs, I have the responsibility to raise money for various scholarships, among them the Celia Adams Endowment Fund. During the initial planning stages of this event, the community asked permission to honor my great-grandmother Celia Adams, a former slave and freedom fighter, in this way. Yet, the Wildcat and the Star have chosen to desecrate this honor by suggesting it will be funded in an unethical manner.
Likewise, your cartoon depicted an exclusionary effort of fundraising, while the scholarship and all events are inclusionary in nature. If you had properly researched the nearly two-year process more thoroughly, you would have understood that the "family reunion" referred to in my letter pertained primarily to the community event and not my own family. The only connection between the two events comes in light of the honor given to my great-grandmother and my family's selection of Tucson as the site for our annual event.
I am disheartened by the irresponsible manner in which you covered this issue, and owe no apology for my actions as you've suggested. But rather, I ask why didn't you wait until I returned from vacation to obtain clarification? Wouldn't you have given this courtesy to any other administrator? Particularly one that "has been a well-respected member of the Tucson community for quite some time," according to your staff editorial.
I understand the nature of "high-tech lynching." However, I do not hold the student journalists entirely responsible. I separate the good work that you have done and must continue to do, but I would like a response concerning the non-use of primary sources in your quest to write editorials and political cartoons as well as the practice of "due courtesy" when an administrator was on vacation, as was my case. Do you perpetuate irresponsibility or do you check out the primary source before printing? Remember, character assassination is common for some of us in a diverse society where race is still supreme, and you've contributed to the damage.
Assistant Dean, African American Student Affairs
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