Dear Vanderbilt community,
The trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd has ended and the verdict released. We grieve for the family of Mr. Floyd, whose death marked yet another tragic milestone in a series of violent acts suffered by Black people in this country. We grieve for the many other families for whom this tragedy, and the others before it and since, serves as a reminder of their experiences and what they have lost.
The trial’s outcome highlights how for decades, if not centuries, people of color have often been singled out, unfairly harassed or arrested, attacked and, in the most extreme cases, killed by police.
In our position as a leading research university focused on learning and discovery, the Vanderbilt community cannot look away from heinous acts such as the murder of George Floyd. We must harness our expertise, our pursuit of truth and evidence and our respect for humanity to foster greater understanding of how to work toward a more just future and to support actions that bring about positive change in society.
Moments like today provoke many strong emotions. We challenge you, and ourselves, to use that spark, that energy, to commit to the next steps needed. This is a time for deep reflection and discussion and to identify solutions against racial injustice.
We are committed to providing an affirming space for those who wish to process or have meaningful discussion about the trial’s outcome and what it represents. The University Counseling Center, Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center, Student Center for Social Justice and Identity and the Employee Assistance Program offer opportunities to safely engage. Please do not hesitate to visit with them in the coming days.
Susan R. Wente
Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
Dr. André L. Churchwell
Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer