The UMKC History Department stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. We condemn the violence directed disproportionately at Black people in the US, and we applaud those willing to take action in support of the Black community against police brutality and systemic racism. Like so many other Americans, we are horrified by the deaths of Ryan Stokes, Cameron Lamb, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others. We recognize their deaths are part of a devastating historic pattern that has existed since the beginnings of European colonization and racially-based slavery.
UMKC historians are committed to researching and teaching the histories of systemic racism, oppression, and inequality in the United States and worldwide, while also amplifying the stories of resilience, resistance, and fights for human rights among diverse peoples. Our mission is to share these histories in order to better educate our students and the wider community about the historic roots of racism, injustice, and intolerance that confront our community, nation, and world today. We as historians have an obligation to learn from history. Every movement and push for greater equity, inclusion, and acceptance is a lesson learned and one we are committed to imparting to our students, colleagues, and community.
We know that merely having knowledge of our shared and often painful history will not solve systemic racism and inequality. We firmly believe, however, that unless we confront the harrowing aspects of our nation’s past and how they shape our present we cannot move toward a more equitable future. We urge you to continue to learn this history so it can inform your understanding of current events, as well as how constitutionally-protected protests and demands for social change are so vital to our duty as citizens of the US and the world. It is important that we stand together against white supremacy; anti-Blackness; racially-biased policing; disparities in health, housing, and education; and injustice in its many forms. As history has taught us, activists, allies, and bystanders have played a crucial role in tipping the arc toward equity and social justice.
We recognize that we have a lot of work to do. We will listen and engage in dialogues in an effort to better support you and improve the UMKC community. We are open to suggestions to help facilitate this conversation. We also plan to share resources to better understand the historical implications of this moment. We will send out a follow-up link with this information. In the meantime, we strongly recommend you read the American Historical Association’s statement on “The History of Racist Violence in the United States,” and the UMKC Libraries’ “Call to Action in Support of Racial Justice.”