The senseless murders of black people who posed no threat have created the effect of rioting across the country. Virginia Union University offers condolences to the families who find themselves at the epicenter of this movement to call out the injustices to people of color throughout America. It has been 30 years since we first saw a recording of Rodney King violently beaten by law enforcement. The words “I Can’t Breathe” are painful as we watched George Floyd’s pleas for help and remember the same pleas from Eric Garner and so many others who lost their lives due to excessive force by law enforcement.
To see portions of our beloved city of Richmond burn in protest was jarring. As protests intensify across the country, our top priority is the safety of our students, many of whom live locally. They are our nation’s future. This moment in time, and how we address it, will define us for generations to come.
In 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “a riot is the language of the unheard.” Sadly, 53 years later, we still are not listening. Across the country, exhaustion has turned to rage in communities of color. While we strongly condemn any violence that compromises the safety and wellbeing of our communities, we also acknowledge the despair in our communities that has gotten us to this point. Activists and other concerned citizens continued to speak out against police brutality and demand a more equitable and fair society to no avail, and many people are tired of talk.
At Virginia Union University, education is our social justice. Through education we build up the strength and the belief in each student’s limitless possibility despite societies expectations. We are stronger together, as a community and as a nation. We believe the path forward demands sweeping reform to the systems that consistently oppress communities of color, and we are calling on all of our leaders to learn from this moment and listen to the voices of the unheard. “Liberty and justice for all” must be the promise of every American. And it is our duty to fulfill it.