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I will lead the conversation about police and race on Long Island

Protesters hold signs during a Black Lives Matter

Protesters hold signs during a Black Lives Matter movement protest at Lykes Gaslight Park in downtown Tampa, Fla., Monday, July 11, 2016. Credit: AP

The Newsday editorial board asked, and the Rev. Calvin O. Butts III answered.

In an editorial Tuesday, we noted the Long Island demonstrations about Black Lives Matter and police. The editorial asked, “Who in the region will step forward to convene the conversation this community must have about policing, trust in the criminal justice system, and the racial segregation of our schools and housing?”

Butts sent the following letter in response.

He has served since 1999 as the president of SUNY Old Westbury, one of the most diverse campuses in the nation, and is the pastor of the nationally renowned Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York City.

To the Editor:

First and foremost, thank you for your thoughtful editorial, “A local discussion on police, race?” [Editorial, July 19], on issues of race, guns and relationships on Long Island.

I am writing to let you know that the State University of New York at Old Westbury intends to lead discussions on this vital national and regional issue as we move forward into our new school year.

I have already begun to reach out to community leaders in an effort to plan the first of what I hope will become ongoing discussions that help bring the diverse communities of Long Island together and to bridge divides wherever they may arise.

Ours is among the most diverse colleges in America, and through its educational and service mission seeks to instill in students a belief in, and passion for, creating a just and sustainable world.

By leading this important conversation, we as a college will be living that mission and, hopefully, helping all Long Islanders reach a better understanding of what it means to be members of the greatest race of all – the human race.

Calvin O. Butts III, Old Westbury