In the wake of George Floyd’s death, local organizations, leaders, and businesses have issued their own statements on racial inequality and support for protesters.
University leaders here largely spoke out against injustice in statements to their campus communities.
Carol Johnson, interim president of LeMoyne-Owen College, a historical black college, said this week that the struggle to achieve racial and economic equity is why HBCUs (historically black colleges and universities) exist.
“There is more important work before us than reimagining our college community as a place where students are academically and socially prepared to confront injustice and lead the revolution of ideas, research, and policies that will eliminate racism and senseless harm,” Johnson wrote in a letter to students and faculty. “This is certainly beyond a single incident, or police department, but rather what we experience daily is embedded in a set of system structures that transcend multiple sectors and must be dismantled by those we educate. We can no longer ignore or tolerate injustice, if our students are to succeed.”
Read her full letter to the campus community below.See related PDF
Christian Brothers University president Jackson Shannon also sent a letter to CBU’s students and faculty this week. In it, he said the death of Floyd has “compelled us to confront how we, as a nation, continue to fall too short of the goal of a fair, equitable, and inclusive society in America.”
Shannon said any attempt to make sense of Floyd’s death is a “futile exercise, as it was both utterly senseless and totally unjustifiable.”
CBU has long been committed to advocating for equity, Shannon said, as “fostering a supportive, inclusive, and equitable community is at the very core of who we are as Lasallians.”
Shannon said as president, it is his role to facilitate a deeper and broader campus conversation about the issues raised by the senseless deaths of Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and others.
Read Shannon’s full letter here.
M. David Rudd, president of the University of Memphis, said in a statement this week that the recent national events have revealed “some ugly and enduring inequalities in American society, sparking anxiety, upset, and outrage.”
“As an institution of higher education in one of the most diverse communities in America, our university is committed to being part of the solution,” Rudd said. “We are a place of hope, healing, and healthy debate, We have an identified set of core values that embrace fairness, equity, and justice, and we are committed to living those on a daily basis, particularly when they are most needed.”
To the U of M Community and our City. pic.twitter.com/GDVTzEv2Tb— Dr. M. David Rudd (@UofMemphisPres) May 30, 2020
Rhodes College president Marjorie Hass released this message of solidarity on Sunday.
Shelby County Schools superintendent Joris Ray also spoke out.
Last summer, we partnered with @MEM_PoliceDept @ShelbyTNSheriff on an equity plight for African American men. @SCSK12Unified stands in solidarity with our communities & law enforcement. The marginalized from Memphis to Minneapolis all want to breathe. #OurBoysNeedUs #ICantBeeathe pic.twitter.com/3vqQMdfvGH— Dr. Joris M. Ray (@SCSSuptRay) May 29, 2020
The Memphis Grizzlies stand squarely in opposition to racism and injustice.— Memphis Grizzlies (@memgrizz) June 1, 2020
Read more from our statement: https://t.co/SYphy0Iy0y
"There is no place in our company, or in society, for racism or any form of discrimination," Mark Sutton, our Chairman and CEO, said in a letter to global team members Monday. pic.twitter.com/bLihgdRtlO— International Paper (@IntlPaperCo) June 2, 2020
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No comment, just love. Edit for clarification at 9:21pm— I am not leaving a long personal comment as I am aware that I need to listen and make space to hear deeply. Apologies for any confusion! ...... Update 7:31am: When I first posted, my caption indicated listening and love. Some of you left some uncomfortable feedback letting me know that actually commenting on what's happening would be more productive and a clearer indication of where I personally stand. After spending some time in prayer on this feedback, I'm implementing it to try again. *** What is happening in our country is wrong. Injustice, racism, and disrespect are not just things that happen "someplace else" but in our own city, our own backyards, our own families, our own hearts. Brothers and sisters, friends, coworkers, and neighbors are suffering and so often we (and I am absolutely including myself) turn a blind eye or are "too busy" to do something- or whatever excuse of the moment. I am committing to try harder and do better. BLACK LIVES MATTER. *** Housekeeping note: I know not everyone is comfortable giving feedback publicly, so I'm also including my personal email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to reach out. Lastly, appreciations for last night's feedback. Feedback is an act of generosity- it takes time, which is valuable, and care for the other person. Thank you for the gift. 💕