It pains me to write this statement as our communities and our nation come to grips with the horrific act of racism that unfolded in Buffalo, NY. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims, the historic Jefferson Street community, and the entire City of Buffalo. Another senseless act of gun violence, rooted in hate and disdain for human life, has marred life as we know it as African Americans in this country. So, what do we do and what do we say to ease the pain and anxiety?
There is no simple answer about how we should deal with the tragic deaths of these 10 Americans struck down by the ill thoughts and will of a white gunman who shares the unfortunate mindset of too many in our country. But through it all, there remains hope as America has always come together for healing and a greater understanding following tragedies like this. We embrace what unites us, instead of what divides us. However, we must take it a step further and continue our fight for social justice and equality. If there was ever a time to realize and honor our calling as women of service, that time is now.
I believe the fight begins at the ballot box. That is where we remove individuals from office who have and continue to use their public platforms to spew hatred, misinformation, and alternative facts. With mid-term elections underway, let’s strive to elevate our voter engagement and mobilization efforts and hold elected officials accountable. Sadly, racism and racist practices are entrenched in American society. We must play our part by exposing racism in all its forms wherever it is found if America is ever to rid itself of this national shame.
As I have said time and time again, we must hold onto hope and the promise of a better day. History has shown us that our hope is not misplaced. From the emancipation of slaves and the Civil Rights Movement to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), The Urban League, Black Lives Matter, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, and many others, seminal movements, and consequential organizations have played a pivotal role in changing the course of history in our country. It can be done again, but it requires all of us. Our work is not done.
So as you sojourn through your day and take this message to heart, please remember Celestine Chaney, 65; Roberta A. Drury, 32; Andre Mackneil, 53; Katherine Massey, 72; Margus D. Morrison, 52; Deacon Heyward Patterson, 67; Aaron Salter, 55; Geraldine Talley, 62; Ruth Whitfield, 86; Pearly Young, 77; and countless others who have senselessly lost their lives to racially-motived mass shootings. We will continue to do all in our power to eliminate unbridled hate and intemperate bigotry as we work together to promote unity, justice, love, and peace throughout our democracy.
May we always remember and never forget.
PresidentTennessee State University