Reflections on the 2020 March on Washington

September 4, 2020
  • AACRAO Leadership and Governance
  • Advocacy
  • Committees and Caucuses
  • Competencies
  • Diversity and Inclusion
  • blm
Dear Somebody…please let it be you!
 

Everyone is aware of the recent racial and social injustice events that have taken place in our nation. If you have never heard the names George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, use a simple google search or go back through history to other notable civil rights activists such as Representative John Lewis, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Martin Luther King, Jr to determine what we are fighting for. Racial inequality tensions escalated this past May with the death of George Floyd and the involvement of four police officers in Minneapolis. Various industries began issuing response statements, and Institutions of Higher Education were not an exception. 

Our students, faculty, and staff on our college and university campuses were expressing their concerns and called on their leadership to address diversity with more than just subtle statements. Personally, my role at my HBCU magnified these issues as we prepared our response to highlight the work that serves as the underpinning of our existence. The AACRAO Black Caucus saw the need also and responded immediately with our Town Hall discussion in early June. As part of that leadership and our continued efforts to promote equity and inclusion, a colleague mentioned the National Action Network Commitment March in Washington, DC. At that time, I recall pausing to consider what I needed to do. It was for me the difference between a moment and a movement. I realized that the difference was ME! The difference is what we choose to do, and in that moment, I chose a public and progressive action.

In this moment, Somebody, what do you choose?

In the weeks leading up to the March, I did a lot of research about the event. I made it an educational project with my son who also wanted to participate. We learned together that 57 years ago, the first March was for:
- jobs as many Black Americans still faced limited economic opportunities;
- freedom from social oppression that disadvantaged many Black Americans, and 

- political action to prompt the creation of federal policies to acknowledge that racial equity changes were needed nationally.   

In 2020, these appeared to be the same or similar issues. So, we march on. Participating in the Commitment March will
leave an indelible mark on my life. I met a mother who was marching with her husband and their sons for their sons’ future. I met a college professor from another sister HBCU who was involved in earlier civil rights activities and was there to “get in good trouble, necessary trouble." I met a group of accomplices who had cycled 400 miles to stand beside their friends to challenge the complacency in the justice system. There was so much love expressed by the Commitment March participants but there was also hurt.  Hurt that the struggle continues more than 150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, even with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and codification of diversity for education in 2008 by the National Education Association. I listened to Martin Luther King, III, speak of his father who he lost when he was ten. I looked at my son who will soon be 10 in two months. He was listening attentively and we discussed it afterwards.
 

In this moment, Somebody, what do you choose?

Diversity in higher education is not a new phenomenon. In our field, we are responsible for the education and empowerment of this and the future generation. The AACRAO Black Caucus will continue our progressive efforts to engage everyone in meaningful, action-oriented discussions about equity and inclusion as we change policies, practices and attitudes on our college and university campuses.

 
Sincerely,
Me!
 

Kizzy Morris

Provost & Chief Academic Officer

Cheyney University, Pennsylvania