WASHINGTON, June 2, 2020 —These are very troubling times for our country. As I write to you from our nation’s capital, I see a divided country, with the reality that racism continues to be embedded in our country—an ugly disease that needs to be eradicated.
George Floyd was murdered before our eyes. His killing and the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and far too many African Americans have left many of us angry, frustrated and outraged.
African Americans in particular, and people of color, are tired. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. taught us and stated, “But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard.” He asked us, “And what is it that America has failed to hear?” While none of us supports the violence and destruction we are seeing take place in U.S. cities, I understand the rage. The nation’s systemic racism has gone on too long.
For those of us in higher education, we know that we must continue to educate in order for the world to change, to have educated individuals find ways to speak out, to be the change agents, to be the new leaders, and to be the angelic troublemakers.
AASCU’s mission of serving institutions who deliver America’s promise is for all students who enter their doors. Our work—helping institutions be the best they can be—underscores the amazing education they are providing. Your institutions are engaged in these difficult dialogues on campus, opening hearts and minds and understanding that this country is a nation of diverse individuals, thus creating a democratic, multicultural community of difference. Our AASCU institutions are those educational laboratories where individuals from all walks of life come together to study, live and work in a diverse campus community preparing them to live in a just, equitable and democratic society.
Presently, I am speaking to two to three of you a day. In those conversations, each of you has spoken about how we must double down on injustice and move a nation to become anchored in equity and social justice. You stress that we must continue to prepare, educate and graduate citizens prepared to fight alongside us for an educated populace, prepared to form a more perfect union.
Yes, we have much work to do. We must continue our quest for equity and social and economic justice, for we stand on the shoulders of so many who fought and died in this struggle for us. I also know that I am so fortunate to work with all of you committed to the diverse students our institutions serve, working together to build a better nation for this new majority.
American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) is a Washington, D.C.- based higher education association of nearly 400 public colleges, universities, and systems whose members share a learning- and teaching-centered culture, a historic commitment to underserved student populations, and a dedication to research and creativity that advances their regions’ economic progress and cultural development. These are institutions Delivering America’s Promise of Opportunities for All.