EIU History Department
Statement Regarding Racist Violence
Adopted August 18, 2020
The History Department faculty at Eastern Illinois University stands in solidarity with those who protest the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Rashard Brookes, and the many other Black, indigenous, and people of color by police brutality. We understand that the racist violence enacted upon them results from both individual human agency and social institutions that were founded in part to support a system of racial inequality and white supremacy.
The American Historical Association recently issued a statement regarding a “Sordid History of Violence in the United States.” It reads in part:
As a nation, we’ve shown a reluctance not only to learn our own history but to learn from it, which helps to explain why we continue to witness—and set aside as exceptional—egregious forms of human-rights abuses in case after case…We are killing our own people. Even as we mourn the death of George Floyd, we must confront this nation’s past; history must inform our actions as we work to create a more just society.
We the faculty of History at EIU affirm our responsibility as historians to interrogate and research the actors, actions, and social and political developments that produced white supremacy in the United States and abroad. We believe that “Black Lives Matter” must be said because throughout our nation’s past the opposite has held true. We are committed to educating our students about this history as we confront the nation’s past together. We also recognize that an important part of that responsibility is relocating the nexus of our historical narratives around the experiences of people of color, whose stories do not merely add to the master narrative, but rather reframe them.
We acknowledge that this work is difficult, painstaking, and to some, painful. As educators, we know that we must learn in order to teach, and we commit to educating ourselves through research and by applying our discipline’s best practices to develop anti-racist curriculum and pedagogy. To that end, we pledge the following:
In a small step toward this mission, we offer the following resources for those seeking to educate themselves:
Ibram X. Kendi, The Anti-Racist Reading List: https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/02/antiracist-syllabus-governor-ralph-northam/582580/
Cambridge Core Reading List: Protests, Policing, and Race: https://www.cambridge.org/core/what-we-publish/journals/protests-policing-and-race
Statement of George Sánchez, Executive Board President of the Organization of American Historians: https://www.oah.org/insights/posts/2020/statement-on-recent-events-of-racial-injustice/
Reading Towards Abolition: A Reading List on Policing, Rebellion, and the Criminalization of Blackness, at Radical History Review: https://www.radicalhistoryreview.org/abusablepast/reading-towards-abolition-a-reading-list-on-policing-rebellion-and-the-criminalization-of-blackness/
Statement of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association: https://www.naisa.org/about/documents-archive/previous-council-statements/#georgefloyd
German Studies Association Statement of the Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee: https://www.thegsa.org/blog/dei-committee-statement
National Council on Public History’s statement regarding the killing of George Floyd: https://ncph.org/news/ncph-statement-on-the-killing-of-george-floyd/
Schomburg Center Black Reading List
3721 - Coleman Hall