Statement in Response to the Murder of George Floyd and the Ongoing Reality of Systemic Racism

group of people together

African-American Studies Program

University of Montana

June 3, 2020

The calls for justice in the face of systemic racism that we are witnessing across the country and around the world echo those that originally led to the founding of African-American Studies Programs like ours more than fifty years ago. We honor all our fellow citizens who are now drawing upon and furthering the legacy of that black freedom struggle as they march and demonstrate for substantive change.

In particular, we call for reform in a law enforcement system that has too often devalued black life, engaged in racial profiling, and been responsible for the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many others. Too often, that same system has only paid attention to the murderers of people like Ahmaud Arbery when forced to do so .

In this moment, we re-commit ourselves to offering courses that celebrate, honor, and value the history, experience, and contributions of the African-American community . We will continue to equip our students to speak and act with sophistication, courage , and deep knowledge about racism and how to defeat it in all its forms.

Indeed, we lift up and honor those current and former students of our program who are right now supporting, engaging with, and furthering the work of dismantling racism in the streets, at their jobs, and as they speak with family and friends.

They are leading us toward ever more effective anti-racism initiatives. And we couldn’t be more thrilled by their efforts.

There are so many ways to support this struggle at this time. For those connected to the University of Montana, please consider contributing to the Diana Riley Fund; all funds go toward supporting the work of our black students through their annual Black Solidarity Summit and other student-centered initiatives of the African-American Studies program at UM.