Dear Members of the Gettysburg College Community,
Eight minutes and forty-six seconds.
For eight minutes and forty-six seconds, a white Minnesota police offer, Derek Chauvin, pressed his knee forcefully and brutally against the neck of a black man, George Floyd, until—lying face down upon the pavement—he gasped his last breath, as others stood by and did nothing. Video shows that Chauvin did not relent even after Floyd had lost consciousness. He continued to pin his weight against Floyd’s motionless body for a full minute after paramedics arrived at the scene.
Every day, black and brown people around this country are subjected to acts of racism—actions that strip them of their most basic humanity. As a College dedicated to making a difference in our world, we must do more to call out racism whenever we see it and to work towards implementing the necessary structural changes at our College, in our government, and in our society to eradicate this pandemic that has lasted more than 400 years. This essential work begins here, on our campus, with every one of us.
You will soon hear more from me, President Iuliano, and others about how we as a community can prepare our students for this work and, equally, examine and improve our own institutional practices and behaviors.
Today, the NAACP is calling for a National Day of Mourning in recognition of George Floyd’s funeral. Beginning at 3:45 p.m., I ask you to consider joining me in observing an eight-minute and forty-six-second moment of silence. It offers a time to reflect upon the weight carried by black people and other people of color who for generations have been forced to live and to learn on society’s margins, and to commit to bettering our own College through our individual and collective voices, experiences, and most importantly, our actions.
Chief Diversity Officer