George Floyd was laid to rest in Houston yesterday. On behalf of Humanities Texas, I extend our sympathy and condolences to his family and friends.
Floyd's killing on May 25th—and the subsequent mass protests against racism and violence inflicted upon African Americans—are only the most recent events that manifest the profound tensions and injustices woven into the fabric of our nation. The COVID-19 pandemic points to the same history of inequity, as people of color continue to be disproportionately affected in Texas and across America.
As we mourn the passing of George Floyd and countless others whose lives were cut short by racist violence, we can honor their memory by committing ourselves to the ongoing work of creating a more just and equitable society.
Toward that end, I recommend the thoughtful essay by Kevin Lindsey, president and CEO of the Minnesota Humanities Center, reflecting upon Floyd's death and its lessons for the MHC. Lindsey argues that we must directly address the corrosive effects of racism in America: "If we sincerely wish to create a great democracy, we must honestly examine our past, confront the problems before us, and boldly declare and take action to create a new reality that is truly inclusive for all." As he writes, "a just society for all does not happen by accident. The work of a just society requires all of us to play our part in advancing the cause of justice."
Looking ahead, Humanities Texas will redouble our efforts to hold and support programs that bring people together to address our shared, sometimes difficult and contested history and that promote broader understanding of the diverse cultures that have always called Texas home. Our mission of advancing the knowledge and judgment that representative democracy demands of its citizens has never been more critical.
But we can do more. In the coming months, we will seek the guidance of a broad range of Texans to ensure that our programs are responsive to and reflective of the state's entire population in this moment, particularly the communities so deeply affected by the danger and grief that have sparked recent protests both far away and close to home.
My colleagues and I look forward to speaking with you soon, as we draw upon the humanities to work towards realizing a society that lives up to our nation's highest ideals.