We call attention to the messages of Chancellor Boyce and Provost Wilkin and emphasize that it is with heaviness of heart that we, at the UM School of Education, mourn the senseless and horrific killing of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer while three other Minneapolis officers stood by. We grieve with the families of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and so many others who have been the victims of violent murders fueled by racism, hatred, and blatant disregard for the value of Black lives. These tragic events remind us of the divisions that continue to fracture our society and nation.
It is clear that we, as Americans, have yet to reconcile the failings of our country’s past. We stand together with the African American community to protest the ongoing, systemic and individual acts of racism that deny individuals basic human dignities – respect, justice, access to healthcare, quality education, and more. We must challenge these injustices and demand better from each and every one of us in order to demonstrate to ourselves, our children, and future generations what is possible and right for all people.
The School of Education’s vision states, “We imagine the transformation of individuals and communities to advance educational equity and excellence.” We must move from imagination to action. Just as citizens must feel safe in their communities, all learners must feel safe in their schools, colleges, and universities, and educators are responsible for making this happen.
Educators must stand up for social justice and equity, embrace diversity and inclusivity, and confront all forms of bias and behaviors aimed at marginalizing students in their classrooms, schools, social media, and other spaces. Furthermore, we implore educators to be doers who inspire other educators to address injustice and insensitivity toward people of color and all learners in a spirit of mutual respect, improvement, and systemic change.
As part of our efforts to help create a more civil, just, and inclusive society, we strongly support the removal of the Confederate statue from its current, central position on UM’s campus. This important act is just one of many steps needed to achieve social justice and improve equity at our university and in communities throughout Mississippi and beyond.
Additional steps include continued vigilance of racial and social injustices as well as proactiveness to address the inequities directed against the African American community and other minoritized groups in our nation. We ask you to join us in these sustained efforts. Together, we can all make a profound and lasting difference in the lives of our children and our shared communities.