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There are some things that we do not need history to understand. We mourn the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and countless others, as do all people who respect the dignity of human life and the meaning of justice.

But history can help us understand how we got here and help us choose a different path forward. It forces us to reckon with these deaths as just the latest heinous acts after centuries of racial violence, bigotry and intolerance. It compels us to understand that America’s revolutionary promise of liberty, equality and self-government for all is a beautiful but unfinished dream. It reminds us that those successes that we have achieved in our quest to form a more perfect union have always required courageous acts to extend and defend our shared rights and constant vigilance to maintain them.

Black Americans have been calling on this nation to live up to its revolutionary promise since the very beginning. These voices, filled with grief and rage, are growing louder this week. There can be no clearer evidence that the promise of the American Revolution will remain unfulfilled until there is equality and justice for all.

We stand in solidarity with our staff members, neighbors and communities of color who are making their voices heard through protest. We place empathy and inclusivity among our highest values and embrace the need to confront hard truths with open dialogue about our nation’s complex history and the challenges we face as citizens, as an educational institution, as a community and as a nation. We are committed to harnessing the power of the past and the diverse perspectives of all people to understand our present and shape a better future.