In the year since the murder of George Floyd, students, staff and faculty across the University have been part of a worldwide racial reckoning aimed at exposing and redressing the profound impacts of racism in higher education and beyond. Our efforts toward racial justice took place in forums, poetry readings, deep and often uncomfortable conversations, task forces and rallies.
David A. Harris, Sally Ann Semenko Endowed Chair and professor of law
The video of George Floyd’s murder brought millions face to face with a grim reality, even beyond the cruel, senseless killing itself. Many began to realize the truth of what Black people have said forever: They face targeting by police, which can be physically dangerous and even deadly. And, in so many other ways, they face systemic disadvantages across many dimensions, such as economics and health.
As I look at Pittsburgh—where I served on the mayor’s Community Task Force on Police Reform—and as I survey what has happened nationally, I see some signs of progress. For example, Pittsburgh’s city council and the city’s police force have made changes in the way officers may and may not use force. I talk to many police officers and leaders who truly want this to be a moment of transformational change. But it is clear that what has happened so far is not enough. This past year must be just the beginning of the change we need to see, not the end point.
As I look forward, I hope that our entire Pitt community sees the necessity of working toward equity and fairness not just regarding policing but in all of the structures that disadvantage so many Americans depending on racial or ethnic appearance. I hope to see the energy generated by the events of the last year channeled into forcing city and state leaders to create the change we want and deserve.
Read on for more information regarding the University's Action, Education and Reflection process.