President Schmoke: 'We Must Combat Pandemic Racism'
June 2, 2020
Contact: Office of Government and Public Affairs
University of Baltimore President Kurt L. Schmoke sent the following message to all UB students, faculty and staff on June 2, 2020:
To the UB Community:
As shocked and as heartbroken as we may be by the murder of George Floyd and the aftermath of watching urban areas engulfed in flames, this is not the time to despair.
Societies have overcome pandemics in the past. Now, through concerted and sustained actions on multiple fronts, we will combat the pandemic of racism. Rather than believing that nothing will change, this is the time, in the words of the Atlanta activist Michael Santiago Render, "to plan, to strategize, to organize, and to mobilize." And, as Terrence Floyd, the brother of George Floyd, has said, this is the time to vote. We in the UB community are engaged in meeting the challenges posed by this pandemic. We are here to uplift, inspire, educate and promote justice all across Baltimore. I urge our citizens to join us in this commitment. It's going to take real, sustained effort, but UB, and the city in which we live, are built to last.
Our community does so much to meet the challenges posed by the pandemic of racism. Our Jacob France Institute has offered guidance to public and private sector leaders on practical steps to alleviate economic inequality in Baltimore. The Schaefer Center for Public Policy created the Faith-Based Development Certificate program to assist religious leaders, who have always been at the heart of the civil rights struggle, in uplifting neighborhoods through housing development. The law school's Innocence Project has helped to correct miscarriages of justice by freeing those who were wrongly convicted. Our environmental sustainability program has increased awareness of the problem of environmental injustice. The Community Development Fellowship program puts our students on the scene in neighborhoods in search of improvements. The Klein Fellowship in Creative Writing and Social Justice supports those who want to express the need to do more, and do better.
I could describe many more actions at our great University, but one in particular represents a unique opportunity:
The fact that the Baltimore City Police Education and Training Center is located on the UB campus offers us a chance to interact with current and future police officers in a completely human way. I recently wrote to the Police Commissioner to reiterate the offer made by members of our community to collaborate in the ongoing training of those who will serve throughout Baltimore.
With the commissioner, we share a goal to ensure that these men and women conduct themselves in the spirit of service, not in the spirit of adventure. Exposing police officers to courses in ethics, philosophy, history, literature, in addition to their study of law, psychology and criminal justice reform, will redound to their and our collective benefit. This may seem a small matter to some, but I believe this collaboration would help in assuring that in Baltimore we never see anything like what George Floyd encountered in Minneapolis.
As many have noted, there is no vaccine for this brutal, insidious pandemic. The magic wand to end it does not exist. It is the commitment of individuals, standing on the strong foundation of love for our city and for one another, that can lead us to a better day.
My grandmother used to say, "By the yard life is hard, but by the inch life's a cinch." Each one of us, taking small but sustained steps, will help our country to end this leading cause of misery, this pandemic of racism.
Kurt L Schmoke