June 13, 2020
Dear Friends of the MacJannet Foundation,
This month’s widespread demonstrations against police abuse and discrimination have struck a responsive chord not only across America but throughout the world. In fact, social justice is an important element of what the MacJannet Foundation stands for. By striving to deepen cross-cultural understanding through education and social engagement, we hope to contribute to a world providing better and more just opportunities for all.
The demonstrations remind us of lessons we learned from Donald and Charlotte MacJannet: that each of us, by standing up firmly for what we believe is right, can set examples and strong inspiration for others. When Hitler came to power in Germany in 1933, Charlotte MacJannet tore up her German passport in protest. It seemed merely a symbolic gesture at the time, but it became a major trauma seven years later, when Hitler’s army occupied France and the MacJannets had to flee with little more than the clothes on their backs. To Charlotte, that episode was not an ordeal but an opportunity to give meaning to her life, and to the lives of her friends, relatives, and students.
When the MacJannets’ summer camp reopened after World War II, Charlotte’s campers were always impressed by the vigor with which she— a German native— played La Marseillaise on the piano every Bastille Day. To Charlotte, La Marseillaise wasn’t merely the French national anthem; it carried a universal message: Resist tyranny, with your life if necessary.
Donald and Charlotte dedicated their lives to promoting peaceful ways to build a better world. Their method was to plant seeds among young people, who represented the world’s best hope for the future. At difficult times like the present, when health, economic and social problems are converging massively around the world, we should recall the ongoing inspiration provided by Charlotte and Donald MacJannet.
Our MacJannet-inspired passion for cross-cultural communication provides a special lens as we listen to the voices of protest now raised around the world. Indeed, protestors have called upon everyone to listen, better educate ourselves and reflect on the interplay between a past -- marked in some cases by colonial legacy including slavery and segregation— and a present still marred by intolerable discrimination and racial inequities. I invite the Board and Friends of the MacJannet Foundation to join us in a conversation and rededicate ourselves to ensuring that the education and civic engagement programs we support help move the arc of history toward greater justice for all. In doing so, we will honor both the MacJannets, who have inspired us all, and the voices of today protesting continuing inequities and calling for peaceful change.
President MacJannet Foundation