June 1, 2020
“Justice is indivisible. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Dear NCCU Community:
I write today as a leader of one of the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities. First, I would like to express my deep condolences to the family of Mr. George Floyd who was killed by Minneapolis, Minnesota, police officers on May 25, 2020. On behalf of North Carolina Central University, I join citizens from across our nation and around the world in expressing deep concern about this blatant tragedy and condemning its perpetrators. This incident highlighted how equality and justice are not fairly dispensed in our country.
We are all incensed by the disturbing images of African Americans whose lives have been taken violently across the nation. As we grieve and try to make sense of these tragic deaths and incidents, we also seek reassurance that justice will be served swiftly and those who are responsible will be held accountable.
As a community of students, faculty, and staff, we must together call for the restructuring of our judicial system to create one that dispenses justice equally, regardless of racial, ethnic or sexual orientation. As an institution that was founded by a visionary and fearless leader, this university represents the values that Dr. James E. Shepard exhibited with incredible fortitude and strength as he built a progressive learning institution for African Americans in Durham in the early 1900s. Intent on his mission despite the history of oppression that African Americans and other communities of color had faced, Dr. Shepard demonstrated that no obstacle is insurmountable.
The events surrounding us today represent another moment in history when silence and status-quo are no longer acceptable. I ask you to appeal to our local, state and federal leaders to address the ongoing pattern of racial injustice and disparities that exist within our society and embrace public policies that can truly achieve this country’s ideals.
I am counting on each of you, as Eagles, to lead us in seeking a more perfect union. As Dr. King said in his historic “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963, we all seek to live in a nation where we will not be judged by the color of our skin, but by the content of our character. NCCU continues to uphold and nurture an environment of diversity and inclusion that celebrates and respects all voices and opinions.
Students, faculty and staff: In this painful time, I urge you to take advantage of the resources made available in your university community. I encourage students to contact the Counseling Center if you need assistance dealing with this very difficult moment. Faculty and staff may access the Employee Assistance Program to learn about assistance options available.
Together, let us keep on pursuing a peaceful quest for equality and justice in the days, weeks and months to come. I hope each of you remain secure in knowing the NCCU community is standing by your side.
In Truth and Service,
Johnson O. Akinleye, Ph.D., Chancellor