A Message from Our Executive Director: Let There Be Light


Dear Cal alumni, students, and friends:

“Oh Freedom!”—the song you just heard—was what my mother sang with the Freedom Riders.

She trained in Philadelphia and traveled to the South to engage in nonviolent resistance alongside Martin Luther King Jr. As an eight-year-old girl, I marched in the March on Washington. So, I speak to you today not only as Cal Alumni Association’s executive director, but also as a wife, mother, sister, aunt, and grandmother who comes from a family involved in the fight for civil rights in the United States of America.

In our UC Berkeley community, we grieve and express our deepest sympathy to the family of George Floyd in Minneapolis. His brutal death, and the ensuing insensitive remarks regarding this senseless killing, are indicative our country is at a critical inflection point in our history.    

We are at a significant juncture, just as we were on August 28, 1963 during the March on Washington. We appreciate the diversity of voices who have joined the peaceful demonstrations in cities across this world to acknowledge the sanctity of human life. Peaceful demonstrations that acknowledge the suffering, indifference, and dehumanization that systemic racism has inflicted upon a people just because of the color of their skin.

Yes, our country is at a critical inflection point in our twenty-first century history.

We must ask ourselves: What do we stand for? What are we willing to do to support our principles of peace, human rights, and the value of human life?

You may be asking yourself: “What can I do?”

We, as the Cal Alumni Association community, can support each other. Listen to our sisters and brothers. Respect the life of everyone we encounter, although they may come from cultural backgrounds different than our own.

We must ask ourselves: What do we stand for? What are we willing to do to support our principles of peace, human rights, and the value of human life?

We then must make the changes necessary, starting with our own families first, then in our children’s schools, our businesses, and communities, so that they reflect Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream “that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.’”

As alumni and friends of UC Berkeley, we are the leaders and mentors for the next generation. One’s true legacy is the young people they support to be the leaders for the future.

We can be that catalyst for change, right now, by relieving the suffering of just one person at a time. That person can lead to a change of their entire family; an entire state; an entire country.

As a wife, mother, aunt, and grandmother to Black men, it is difficult for me not to shut the door and focus my efforts on just keeping my own family safe. As a child of the civil rights movement, as a member of the UC Berkeley alumni community, and as a human being, I know that my family—and your family—will never be safe unless we use our collective power to fight for peace, social justice, civil rights, and safety for all of our people.

In the spirit of fiat lux—let there be light.

signature of Clothilde V Hewlett
Clothilde Hewlett ’76, J.D. ’79
Executive Director
Cal Alumni Association