Letters To The Editor: Reflections on the death of George Floyd

6/4/2020, 6 p.m.
The senseless murders of black people who posed no threat have created the effect of rioting across the country.

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 in California. 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 well-being 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, but 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 society’s 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.


President and chief executive officer

Virginia Union University

The past few weeks have only rubbed raw the visceral, exhausting pain of long-standing and overarching injustice.

I know firsthand the dissonance of a lived experience that does not reflect the inalienable rights every American is entitled to — life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

From our country’s inception, our history has been stained with blood and trauma endured by African-Americans. Four hundred years later, the nationwide unrest (last) weekend demands that we refuse to sweep it under the rug any longer.

African-Americans live every day in a country that has never fully allowed us to join its lofty ideals and principles. That struggle is real and it is unacceptable.

Our nation must rise to meet this moment together — first with an ear to listen to the pain of those who refuse to lower their expectations to an incomplete American ideal, followed by swift action to protect black lives from violence, whether at the hands of renegade police officers or renegade vigilantes.