June 4, 2020, Adrian, Michigan – The Presidents of both universities sponsored by Adrian Dominican Sisters recently issued statements and letters to their university communities in response to the recent death of George Floyd, as well as on the ongoing racism in the United States.
Mike Allen, PhD, President of Barry University in Miami Shores, Florida, issued the following statement:
Dear Barry University Community,
Similar, I’m certain, to many of you, I am deeply saddened and angered by the senseless death of George Floyd in Minnesota last week. The latest in a string of tragic examples of injustice in our society, it is a struggle to adequately express how events like these strike at the fabric of humanity, the nation, and our Barry University mission.
While words are woefully inadequate and I find it difficult to find the right ones, I am moved to write to our community because remaining silent is not an option.
We must do better.
I know this painful incident strikes a deeply personal chord for so many of our students, faculty and staff. It certainly does for me. As a father in a transracial family, we see and experience race through a unique lens, and l ache for a world that is safer and more just for my children and all children.
I find myself during these times leaning on our Barry University Core Commitments more than ever. Our university community is beautifully diverse, inclusive, welcoming and grounded in the principles of respect for one another and the human dignity of all. These values are hard-earned and require constant attention and nurturing. We must stand up daily to maintain them. We are not perfect, but I believe we are blessed with examples that the broader world desperately needs right now. And with the strength of these examples as a foundation, we must lead.
At Barry we stand with victims of the most flagrant abuses of power and privilege as well as those marginalized by centuries of systematic discrimination. Our power lies in education. We must continue to foster critical dialogue and shift the paradigm by shining a light on past and present injustice.
Today, I call on our students, faculty, staff and alumni to reaffirm their personal commitment to accepting social responsibility, to fostering peace and nonviolence, striving for equality, and leading toward meaningful change through collaborative service.
Thank you to each of you for your many gifts and willingness to share them for the greater good.
Sister Peg Albert, OP, PhD, President of Siena Heights University in Adrian, issued the following letter:
Dear Siena Heights University Community,
I write this to you with tears in my eyes and rage in my heart. The actions that caused the death of our brother George Floyd and many others are totally unacceptable and an affront to our mission of respecting the dignity of all. Our brown and black brothers and sisters have suffered much too long by our country’s institutional racism and white privilege. We must own our part in all of this, but even more so, transform ourselves with the assistance of others and our God.
As a faith-based university in the Catholic-Dominican traditions, our search for truth is of the utmost importance. And, sometimes, the truth is difficult for us to accept and face. We must take a long, loving look at ourselves and recognize our sinfulness. We must own where we have fallen short by recognizing how we have been a part of oppressing others either consciously or unconsciously.
As an Adrian Dominican-sponsored institution, the Vision Statement of the Adrian Dominicans speaks to our hearts:
We Dominican Preachers of Adrian,
impelled by the Gospel
and outraged by the injustices
of our day
As members of the SHU community we must do the same. Our values and moral fiber impel us to do so.
We at SHU support peaceful protesting but not violence. The violence of the police officer and those who stood around allowing Mr. Floyd to be murdered must not be answered with violence. It must be answered with justice. As we seek justice, may we do so in a manner that creates a truly human civil society where all are respected and valued equally. May we all be transformed to effect positive change within us and among us.
May our voices rise in prayer and may God grant us the courage and insight to do all we must do.
June 3, 2020, Adrian, Michigan – The Adrian Dominican Sisters stand in support of the following powerful “Red Record Statement” issued by the National Black Sisters’ Conference on “21st Century Lynchings in America.”
21st Century Lynchings in America: Our Red Record Statement
Issued by the National Black Sisters’ Conference
In 1895 the activist and Civil Rights icon, Ida B. Wells, wrote a research pamphlet called The Red Record. In it Mrs. Wells tabulated the numbers of lynchings in the United States since the Emancipation of African slaves. The conclusion was that little had changed for the Negro in America by the end of the nineteenth century. The Emancipation Proclamation, and federal programs like the Freedmen’s Bureau, did not prevent the death of thousands of Negros by the end of the nineteenth and early twentieth century.
Ida B. Wells writes: “in slave times the Negro was kept subservient and submissive…but with freedom the Negro is whipped, scourged, he is killed.” Frederick Douglass, in a review of Mrs. Wells’ groundbreaking study, wrote: “If American moral sensitivity was not hardened by the persistent infliction of outrage and crime against colored people, a scream of horror, shame, and indignation would rise from heaven.” America’s sensibility is still hardened in the twenty-first century. Black Americans still scream in horror. We still cannot breathe. Black Lives still do not Matter.
One-hundred and twenty-four years later we are still writing the same story! African American men, women, and children are still being lynched, murdered, and executed for playing with a toy gun, watching television in one’s own home, and mistaken identity, driving or jogging while black, and being choked to death in cold blood by law enforcement officers, who have sworn to serve and protect.
We must speak and never forget their names.
Reason “Sean” Reed shot and killed in Indianapolis; Breonna Taylor, an emergency medical technician in Louisville, Ky., shot eight times in her bed; Ahmaud Aubrey killed while out jogging; and George Floyd dying from a police officer’s knee on his neck as Mr. Floyd screamed, “I can’t breathe!”
The National Black Sisters’ Conference (NBSC) condemns the viral disease of systemic racism that America has legitimized and practiced for over 400 years! We will not remain silent! There is more than one pandemic affecting our nation!
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound in the starless midnight of racism…”
If this country is to reclaim its moral stature, we must confess and atone for our original sin, or America will self-destruct as a nation. As Malcolm X once warned the white power structure, “The chickens have come home to roost.”
Without justice there can be no peace and justice demands that:
Finally, as black Catholic religious women, we call upon Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda, Archbishop of Minneapolis-St. Paul, and all bishops of good will to speak out on behalf of the church by denouncing these violent acts of hate and racism.
As Dr. King told us, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
If the most recent pastoral letter on racism, “Open Wide Our Hearts,” written by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, is to have any moral legitimacy, then our episcopal leaders must give more than lip-service to addressing the sin of racism that is destroying communities of color in this nation.
As Christians, as Catholics, as people of faith, we must do more than just pray; we must model Jesus’ message to love one’s neighbor.
Our neighbor cannot breathe! Our neighbor is being lynched! Our neighbor is dying!
Our Red Record of Hate must end now!