Black Lives Matter. Three simple words that make a poignant statement. A statement that is true and supported in the College of Creative Arts. Three words forming a phrase that reflects the last eight years of our nation’s complex struggle with racism in America. A phrase that starts with the killing of Trayvon Martin, continuing through the killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. A phrase that has now reached a new crescendo with the killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. Black Lives Matter.
The arts fill many roles in society. For many the roles that come to mind are to reflect beauty and to provide escape. However, one of the most important roles of the arts is to reflect society and to challenge us to engage in difficult conversations. Throughout history, artists such as Paul Robeson, John Coltrane, Nina Simone, James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Jacob Lawrence, TJ Anderson and August Wilson have illuminated the conflicts in our society. Their work effectively memorializes the challenges of their times and inspires the difficult conversations that we must engage in as a society. It is because the arts can lead us to engage in these difficult conversations that I believe it important that I add my voice as the Dean of the College of Creative Arts to the voices of President Gee, Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Meshea Poore, chief of University Police W.P. Chedester and Patrice Harris, president of the American Medical Association.