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A Response to Racism & Injustice In Our Nation

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." — Martin Luther King Jr.

Dear Gantt Center Community,

Over the last several weeks, we have continued to grapple with the utter disregard for black lives. The killing of George Floyd in Minnesota follows a long line of murders perpetuated by the institutionalization police brutality and white supremacy. Black men are traumatized. Children are left without fathers. Black mothers who have lost their sons suffer, and attempt to find justice in a system that was created by unjust standards.

In a time when our nation should be united, we find ourselves more divided. The Black community has been wounded time and time again within this vicious cycle of injustice. We cannot continue to stand by and watch our people suffer in a broken system that was designed to police Blacks and serve Whites. We are reminded too frequently that systemic racism is very much alive and will continue to kill African-Americans if we do not collectively take action.

Change will require us to collectively do the work long after the protests are over. It requires true leadership from the national level to the community level. It requires persistence—and above all it requires white people who have benefited from the system the most to use their privilege to stand up and speak out to effect change.

In 2018, we launched our Initiative for Equity + Innovation—a permanent strategy that seeks to foster change by empowering individuals within our communities to explore how they live, learn and work with one another. This critical bold direction enables our institution to reach beyond the traditional meaning of art, while also responding to the ever changing needs of local, regional and national communities that are struggling with the traumatic impact of social injustices. Through powerful community programs, discussions, and award-winning exhibitions like "Welcome to Brookhill", "...and justice for all", "What We Ask is Simple", and our upcoming exhibition, "Inter|Sectionaliy: Diaspora Art from the Creole City", our Initiative for Equity + Innovation allows us to be progressive and proactive in how we respond to changing dynamics in our communities, so that we begin to move from conversations to behavioral change.

While we are all still adjusting to a new normal, this crisis has proven to be more disastrous for the Black community more than any other, financially, mentally and physically.

As many of you know, in early April, the Gantt began a weekly virtual programming series titled, “Unmasked”. Each week, through this powerful panel conversation series, we highlight a disparity in the African-American community that has been exacerbated by the pandemic. In this current climate, we find that both the pandemic and racism continue to be fatal for the Black community. This week, our series continues on Wednesday, June 3rd at 6 pm with episode 8, "Unmasked: We Can't Breathe", as we address the state of chaos within our justice system and how Black people, particularly black men continue to bear the burden of oppression. If you have not been able to tune in to the series, click here to catch up on previous episodes.

We long for the day that our nation honors Dr. Kings words “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” The day envisioned by our black culture torch bearers—Harvey B. Gantt, Malcom X, Rosa Parks, Marcus Garvey, Booker T. Washington and Martin Luther King, Jr.—who tirelessly fought before us. In their spirit, the Gantt will continue to work relentlessly to create a better future for generations to come.

Let us allow courage to lead our actions and love to lead our hearts.

Together we will rise,

David R. Taylor
President & CEO

Posted on Monday, June 01, 2020

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