Under the leadership of Dean Omar Ali, Lloyd International Honors College and its dedicated professional staff unequivocally support the Black Lives Matter protests and the empowerment of Black communities across the nation. We have held off on issuing a statement since words are less meaningful than action, nevertheless words do count, and can be used as part of action to call attention to, dissect, uplift, empower, and heal. Our brilliant Honors Ambassadors asked us for a statement so we offer the following as part of our statement:
Our Dean has long been a leader of independent African American political empowerment through his scholarship, organizing, and community building. His latest book, In the Balance of Power: Independent Black Politics and Third Party Movements in the United States, explores Black protest movements throughout American history. Most recently he was instrumental in the creation of the university’s racial equity website with Dr. Andrea Hunter in the Chancellor’s Office, and he serves as the lead organizer of the “Race and Racism in American History” forums that began in June with two Black graduate students Tiera Moore and Tamera Jones; he is regularly tapped by the media and by members of the broader community to support different ways possible to empower Black communities, shine a light on police violence against Black and poor people, and create programs (such as Community Play!/All Stars Alliance) and workshops (with young people and police officers, in Bridging the Gap) to support learning, growth, and development.
Over the past five years, in particular, the Honors College has seen an increase in Black students as well as seminars, courses, and workshops dedicated to various aspects of African and African Diaspora histories and cultures. We launched an annual trip to the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., and have created funding opportunities that have benefitted Black, poor, and working-class students over the summer. Individual members of our staff serve as mentors to Black students and regularly create spaces in and out of the classroom to engage issues of diversity and inclusion. Honors College staff and student workers reflect and benefit from inclusive and meaningful racial diversity and remain open and eager to work with any and all people who seek a developmental and empowering response to all forms of racial and other forms of discrimination (including based on class, gender, sexual orientation, ability, and religion).
Given the nation’s history of slavery and the legacy of Jim Crow, it is incumbent upon all of us to do whatever it takes to redress the outrages that have transpired against Black people, exacerbated most recently by COVID-19, which has displayed profound racial disparities in healthcare. James Baldwin wrote, “History is not the past. It is the present. We carry our history with us. We are our history.” So what is to be done? As we are both the products of history and the producers of history, Honors welcomes all to keep making history together and follow the lead of Black students, faculty, staff, and members of the broader community, in particular, and all voices calling attention to Black Lives Matter. Honors Ambassadors and Honors Dragons—the Honors College’s two main student leadership training bodies—will surely be playing an important role over the coming weeks and months to support our collective efforts and continue developing their own ways of uplifting their fellow students and providing developmental leadership to the campus as a whole.
Let’s stay open, curious, and courageous in our efforts. Let’s affirm and support each other, with particular attention to Black voices and black lives. Let’s create together by asking more questions of each other. Black lives matter. Black communities, families, and individuals have been the blood, sweat, and tears—the quintessential labor, creative, and moral force in American history. What do you think? Does this resonate? How so? If not, why? Say more. We would love to hear from you. Email us at [email protected].
— UNCG Lloyd International Honors College