The recent rash of hate mail to more than a dozen historically black colleges in eight states [news brief, Jan. 8] reminds us once again of how much work there is yet to be done to create a society rid of racism, where every person is free to pursue his or her hopes and dreams without fear of bias or attack. The letters proclaimed to black students that their total destruction was the life's mission of the haters and that in 2000 "the war" against blacks will escalate.

In the tradition of those who came before, we stand together, African American and Jew, issuing a clarion call to the good people in this country to say, "No more." We know those who hate one group usually hate others. In this case, black colleges appear to be the main target, yet Jewish institutions around the country also received hate messages. We must respond to racial and ethnic prejudice wherever and whenever it occurs.

The 20th century will be recorded as among the most tragic as to how people treated people different from themselves. If we look at the 21st century as a clean slate, we can begin working today to ensure that its history will be one of celebration and exploration of our differences, not of destruction and disrespect.

WILLIAM H. GRAY III

Fairfax

ABRAHAM H. FOXMAN

New York

The writers are, respectively, president of the United Negro College Fund and national director of the Anti-Defamation League.