The History Department of the University of Chicago condemns the recent outbursts of racist violence that have taken the lives of George Floyd, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor and others at the hands of police authorities. Together with others in our city, the country, and the world, we deplore the hateful environment willfully stoked by many elected officials that contributed to these atrocities as well as the vigilante murders of Ahmaud Arbery and others. We also recognize the deep history of this pattern in our society, including here in Hyde Park and in Chicago—a history that includes police violence and torture. Thus we declare our solidarity with the ongoing protests, grief, and righteous rage being voiced across the country against these acts, and our outrage at the repressive response at all levels of government. We collectively affirm that Black Lives Matter.
As historians we are not only deeply conscious of the long history of legally sanctioned brutality against people of color in this country and elsewhere in the world, but are also keenly aware that public silence and the complicity of key social institutions at such moments can be catastrophic. We recognize our responsibility to reveal, confront, and work to overcome the crippling legacies of slavery, systemic racism, and racial violence. Therefore, we pledge to work in every domain we can to reveal, confront and ultimately overcome the crippling legacies of slavery, violence, and systemic racism at the root of this crisis. Our study of the past encourages us to believe that greater knowledge can promote social transformation and human understanding; we therefore commit to join in building the institutional structures and sponsoring initiatives needed to promote racial equality and justice.