The death of Mr. George Floyd and a call to action

Dear Members of the University Community:

The tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on Memorial Day has preoccupied my thoughts over the last week for several reasons. It touched me personally and literally hit home because Minneapolis and St. Paul were the cities where I lived and worked in the 1970s as a University of Minnesota graduate student and principal of an alternative high school.

Witnessing Mr. Floyd’s death on video brought back memories of the inhumanity and inequalities experienced by African Americans, particularly men, that I recalled growing up in New Orleans. Despite some progress more than a half century after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, we still have a long way to go. Racial injustice, economic inequality, high poverty rates, educational inequities, health disparities and abuses of law enforcement that led to the deaths of Mr. Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor pervade most of our communities, not just the Twin Cities. But unless we take active steps to do something about these injustices, consistent with our Jesuit and Mercy mission, nothing will change.

Going to the polls annually to vote for leaders who will bring about meaningful change and doing our research on the most qualified candidates and the laws that need to be changed are the most effective actions we can take at this time. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Voting is the foundation stone for political action.” We would honor Mr. Floyd’s memory best and provide consolation to his family by all of us exercising our right to vote this year and in the future.

For a related reflection from the Office of Mission Integration, click here.

Sincerely,

Antoine M. Garibaldi