The faculty of the Department of History on the downtown campus of Georgia State University mourns the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and other victims of systemic racist violence. We stand with our students and fellow colleagues who are exercising their constitutional rights and demonstrating for racial and social justice. At a time when the coronavirus pandemic has revealed once again wide racial disparities in access to quality housing, healthcare, and education and in economic wellbeing and security, we support our university’s commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equity. The study of history helps us understand the ways patterns from the past shape conditions in the present and possibilities for the future. Historians can carry out specific tasks in the work of reforming our institutions and renewing our democracy. The faculty will reach out and engage in dialogue with students of history and allied disciplinary and interdisciplinary fields about what we can do together.
In the meantime, we will commit to instruction designed to amplify the voices and experiences of Black people and other people of color and promote human rights for all with access to adequate health care, education and housing and an end to white supremacy and state-sanctioned violence. We will increase attention to the histories of struggles for freedom and equality in this country and worldwide in all our undergraduate history courses. In our graduate courses, we will continue to highlight the work of diverse scholars, understanding that through a multiplicity of voices comes knowledge of the past. We will continue to diversify our faculty, acknowledging that white supremacy has factored into our makeup as a department, as it does academia at large. Finally, we will work with others to recognize the exemplary life of scholarship, teaching, and mentoring by the late Professor Jacqueline A. Rouse in an authentic and lasting way. Dr. Rouse, a distinguished scholar of black women’s history, devoted 26 years to teaching and mentoring students at Georgia State and passed away in May after a short illness.