Public Statement

AAC&U Statement on the Verdict in the Trial of Derek Chauvin

Apr 20, 2021

Washington, DC—Today the focus is rightly on the verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin. AAC&U grieves with the family and friends of George Floyd over their ongoing trauma and loss. Unfortunately, we recognize and acknowledge that anti-Black police violence did not begin or end with the killing of George Floyd. Neither will it end with the conviction of Derek Chauvin. We note, too, that the long-standing movement for racial justice that was sparked by outrage over Floyd’s death continues to build as communities across the country and around the world suffer the repeated shocks of incident upon incident of Blacks and other people of color dying at the hands of police in the United States.

What these wrenching incidents and their aftermaths point to, individually and collectively, is the profound and urgent need for racial equity and healing in our communities and across our country. If a healing process is to succeed in advancing racial and social justice and transforming our society, it must begin with recognition of the truth that our history, systems, structures, and policies have been underwritten by the false belief in a hierarchy of human value. The result, a pervasive and ongoing legacy of systemic racism, is as manifest today in the death of George Floyd as it is in the human costs of the coronavirus pandemic, which have been borne disproportionately by communities of color.

In this broader context, AAC&U reiterates its strong support for the creation of a United States Commission on Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation (TRHT). As stated in the resolution now before the US Congress, the goals of such a congressional commission would be to “properly acknowledge, memorialize, and be a catalyst for progress toward jettisoning the belief in a hierarchy of human value; embracing our common humanity; and permanently eliminating persistent racial inequities.” In other words, a US TRHT commission would create both a democratic process and a national framework within which racial healing can begin by striking at the very roots of racism in the United States.

We will continue our work with higher education leaders to prepare the next generation of leaders to build just and equitable communities and to promote racial healing on campuses and in communities across the country. The growing number of TRHT Campus Centers serve as beacons of hope, demonstrating the promise of the TRHT effort and leading the way in breaking down racial hierarchies and dismantling the belief in a hierarchy of human value. We are committed to growing and nurturing the network of campus centers and to working with them to share the stories, models, and resources that emerge from their pathbreaking work.