Statement of Our Mourning and Our Resolve

The George Floyd mural outside Cup Foods at Chicago Ave and E 38th St in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Photo by Lorie Shaull

Today we move forward with resolve after yesterday’s memorial service for George Floyd in Minneapolis.

We grieve George Floyd’s death not only because we bore witness to the horrifying video of his killing, but because his life marks another African American life fatally devalued in a society in which racial inequities have stood for far too long.
Systems that allow for such atrocities must change.

CLA is the campus home for research, teaching, and community engagement in the study of race, indigeneity, gender, and sexuality. Our departments of African American and African Studies, American Indian Studies, Chicano and Latino Studies, American Studies, and Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies, and the Asian American Studies program address issues of race, justice, dignity, and respect in their research, creative work, instruction, and their engagement in our communities. And CLA’s departments across the arts, humanities, and social science further elevate and enhance our understanding of these critical issues.

This is our daily work. That will never change. But at this moment, we commit ourselves to doing a better job. Better at making our research and art speak to fundamental challenges with creative solutions from a range of perspectives and disciplines. Better at learning from and engaging with our community partners. Better at preparing our students to lead with inclusivity, equity, and passion.

We will bring to bear our collegiate core values—freedom of thought and expression, efficiency and adaptability, and excellence in all we do—in advancing our commitment to bring us ever closer to racial equity and justice. We move forward committed to seeing our college’s core values of respect, diversity, and social justice lived out on campus, in Minnesota, in our nation, and around the world.

I firmly believe that a society of fairness and justice and opportunity matters to people across a wide range of political worldviews and viewpoints. Caring about others and opposing the evil of racism matter to us all. We may differ on policy approaches and strategies, but those values unite us. As we have seen in images from around the globe calling for justice for George Floyd, people from all corners are saying we can do better in living up to our values.

Across the college right now there is great mourning over the events that happened just a few miles away. But that mourning will be for naught if we do not look inward as well as outward. As a college, we commit to examining our own policies, procedures, and practices to identify the changes needed to mitigate and eliminate inequities. We commit with urgency to ensuring an environment where all of us can be equally valued and respected and where we all experience equal dignity.

In the College of Liberal Arts we pursue excellence in everything we do so that we can do the most good we can for others. That mission and purpose has never been more vital.

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