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Persisting After the Verdict

Dear Ram Family,

With the guilty verdicts handed to ex-police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd may come a variety of emotions within in our campus community. Some of us may feel joy in the fact that, against both recent and historical outcomes, the legal system has succeeded in holding one of its own accountable for his actions. Some may still feel anger that an examination of every aspect of George Floyd’s life, despite his status as victim and not perpetrator, was deemed necessary to fairly reach this outcome. Still others of us may view the proceedings, and the resulting conclusion, with skepticism because of its rarity in a system that too often refuses to acknowledge, and punish, its “bad apples” for their offenses. But two emotions that I want to encourage you to avoid in the days to follow are indifference and satisfaction.

Social justice is not a singular act, but a movement born of inequality and sustained by vision, hope, and sacrifice. As such, the work for equal existence, for dignity for all people in every shared space, should not be stopped or slowed by a single verdict. The spirit of the civil rights movement that has been captured and renewed by the social activism of our youngest generation must endure, and we must all continue to challenge ourselves to press our world forward, so that the generations that follow us can thrive in a more just society.

So, what I will ask of each one of you, is that you persist. Persist to engage government at every level, through your vote and your voice, to ensure that we hold our leaders accountable to the words of our Constitution and that we are represented at every table. Persist to support your neighborhoods and communities through acts of kindness and benevolence, so that the needs of our brothers and sisters will be met and the bonds between us strengthened. And persist to educate and enlighten yourselves, for your success, in a culture that too often views you as incapable or unworthy, is itself an act of revolution and change.

It is through our collective commitment to recognize our humanity in all of its facets, and to champion the causes of the underserved and unheard, that the world will become a better place.


Elwood L. Robinson, Ph.D.

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