Statement Regarding Recent Unrest in Atlanta and the Nation From AUCC Council of Presidents
To the families, friends and loved ones of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, we extend our deepest sympathy. Our hearts ache for both the nation we have worked to make more just and equitable and for the city we love and call home. Through our grief for the countless known and unknown victims of systematic racism, we continue to pray that we can use this moment to shine light in our communities. This is not the moment to fall into despair. The world needs our leadership and love. As our forefathers and mothers from the Atlanta Student Movement, the larger Civil Rights Movement, and every struggle for justice in America have shown us, we accomplish great things when we act in solidarity with those who fight for freedom and push America to live up to its promise.
For well over a century, the institutions of the Atlanta University Center have worked to use the light of knowledge to guide the nation out of dark times. The very existence of Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine, and Spelman College is a form of protest in itself—a recognition that education can illuminate the path to justice and equality and a demand that it be available to the sons and daughters of the diaspora. While we are proud of the leaders in every field our institutions have sent forth into the workforce, we are even prouder of their preparation to carry forward the hard work of making the world better through ideas, innovation, creativity, courage, and determination.
What can we do, individually and as the AUC community? What is the way forward? What are the difficult conversations we need to have and with whom? What are the action plans we need to craft? These are the challenges in the days and weeks ahead. Together, we must continue to thoughtfully engage in the hard work of creating positive change in our communities and across our nation.
Statement from AUC Presidents Regarding Treatment of AUC Family Members and Ongoing Protests
Last night, two members of the Atlanta University Center family (one from Morehouse College and one from Spelman College) were detained with unnecessary force by law enforcement in downtown Atlanta. While we understand the need to maintain order, the abusive behavior reported to us is completely unacceptable. Today, we have spoken to Atlanta Mayor Bottoms and to Atlanta Police Chief Shields to request a thorough investigation and appropriate action.
It is clear that the behavior of law enforcement in this country must change. Incidents like the one last night and the many events of police violence (recorded and unrecorded) leading up to today heighten the urgency of this need for change. And we support our students as champions and activists on behalf of change.
Students and alumni from Atlanta University Center institutions have historically been a force for equity and justice in the United States and around the world and we support their engagement in the ongoing fight to not only end the senseless murder of people of color at the hands of law enforcement, but to also address the broader tenants of systematic racism and injustice which have too long been endemic in our society. Indeed, a critical aspect of our mission is to disseminate knowledge as catalysts for positive social change- our institutions support the peaceful raising of voices highlighting the injustices of systemic racism and for being a part of the design and implementation of solutions that will bring about this change. We boldly embrace our role in social justice and we call on all alumni, faculty, staff, and students to actively engage in the hard work these solutions will require.
As a reminder, we are in the midst of a pandemic that has taken a disproportionately greater toll on the African-American community. If you plan to participate in a public in-person social activism event, we encourage you to prioritize your safety and the safety of others in the campus and broader community. We encourage you to observe local laws and curfews and adhere to public health regulations including:
- Practicing social distancing
- Wearing masks
- Practicing proper sanitation including frequent handwashing
We are united in our call for social justice and continue and strongly support the desire to impact the change our country needs.
Statement from Presidents of Atlanta University Center Consortium Institutions Regarding the Charging of Officers Involved in Excessive Force Against AUC Students
The presidents of the Atlanta University Center Consortium institutions (Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine, and Spelman College) have demanded quick action, transparency, justice, and accountability for the officers who used excessive force against a Morehouse student and a Spelman student this weekend. The behavior of the officers was brutal and categorically unacceptable. The charging of these officers represents an important first step in that accountability and we must all remain vigilant to ensure that they are held fully responsible for their actions. We stand in support of our students through the next phases of the legal process.