Dear students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends:
A thunderous choir of voices rose across our nation again this week, condemning yet another senseless and disturbing killing of a Black man that has reopened deep wounds and fomented waves of anger, frustration and division.
The horrifying image of George Floyd dying as a police officer knelt on his neck is one that will be forever burned into our national consciousness. We hope that it will be the one that finally steers us onto a path of real change, toward the America that we can and must become.
We have stood at this same point far too often in recent history, from Rodney King and Trayvon Martin to the shooting deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor earlier this year.
Every time, we felt the same outrage, and shared the same vow to finally achieve the true equality and justice that has evaded our country for far too long.
Every time, it has carried a heavy emotional and physical toll on the African-American community, spawning a new round of fear, distrust and anger. That toll, this time, is magnified by a global pandemic that has upended all of our lives, but has been disproportionately cruel to minority and underserved communities.
Let us make this outrageous act of aggression a pivotal point in history that begins to reverse generations of systemic racism and discrimination.
Let it start here and let it start now.
We must collectively work to spread the University of Illinois System’s bedrock commitment to inclusion, understanding and justice. Anything less from each and every one of us will undermine the future we all dream of creating – one that is truly worthy of our vibrant and diverse learning communities.
Executive Vice President and Vice President for Academic Affairs