“I am heartbroken and angered by the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin and that our nation once again finds itself reeling from the tragic shooting of a Black man, this time as three of his children looked on in horror. Mr. Blake, who is now paralyzed with severe organ damage as he fights for his life, is just the latest in a long line of Black men and women who have been shot and severely wounded or killed by police. George Floyd. Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. The list sadly goes on and on. We as a nation must enact reforms that stop this list of names from growing any longer.
“Slavery, racism, and discrimination are all part of our nation’s story and while progress has undoubtedly been made, racial injustice remains on full display in 2020. There should be no reluctance in any of our leaders in acknowledging this fact and working to address it. We must continue to advance dialogue while urgently taking action. I also condemn the murders and violence that have followed the shooting of Jacob Blake. This nation has much work left to do.
“Yet in the face of such tragedy we are again seeing a remarkable show of compassion and unity in so many who are speaking out against these injustices and inequities and demanding change. And I am inspired by the grace of Mr. Blake’s mother who called on us all to ‘use our hearts, our love, and our intelligence to work together to show the rest of the world how humans are supposed to treat each other.’ In the words of Mr. Blake’s father, Jacob Blake’s life does matter. Black lives matter.
“We know that a higher education provides limitless pathways of opportunity, but we also know that Black people and other people of color don’t have the same chances to embark down that pathway and too often don’t have the support and resources they need to complete their degrees. As the association of public and land-grant universities, APLU and our members are seeking to address racial and other inequities in society and know that such work involves making changes and refocusing work ourselves to lead by example.
“This coming Sunday we will celebrate the 130th Anniversary of the Morrill Act of 1890 and the extraordinary contributions to society made by the system of 19 land-grant, Historically Black Colleges and Universities that were designated under that act. The law represented critically important progress as it opened up the opportunity for a higher education to all people, particularly Black students who were previously denied access. It was progress for the nation, but that progress is not enough. As a public university community, we must embrace the struggle to stamp out racial injustice and inequity and advance opportunity for all. We must do that through speaking out in the face of national tragedies and ensuring we live up to our values of diversity, equity, and inclusion.”