President Gregory Crawford's Remarks at the Vigil for George Floyd

June 08, 2020

Good Evening, and thank you for inviting me to speak tonight.

Tonight, we gather as a community to mourn and remember George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Sean Reed, Tony McDade, and many, many other black Americans whose lives were brutally and unjustly taken.

The world has risen up in powerful solidarity to say: No more. Join us. Black Lives Matter.

We can no longer sit idly by. At this moment – the values of this nation – freedom, justice, and liberty – are profoundly unfulfilled for many. Our society, law enforcement, and legal system have failed the Black community over and over again.

All too often in this nation – race and racial justice – languish in the background – as the great task remains unfinished.

In order to progress and change – we must engage in honest and difficult dialogue. Truth and reconciliation are essential.

We must call out white supremacy.

We must call out white privilege.

We must call out racial injustices.

We must call out racism and bigotry

We must stand against all forms of racism, inequality, and oppression. 

And, we must start by looking within ourselves.

Black Americans suffer unjust burdens every day – not least in their encounters with law enforcement. From Crispus Attucks at the Boston Massacre to the 54th Massachusetts Regiment in the Civil War to the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II to the disproportionate deaths in Vietnam, black Americans have defended their nation with courage. Their nation has not defended them.

Racial justice and transformation start in our communities. It starts with us at Miami and Oxford – with acknowledging our local and national history and acts of racism.

It starts with our advocacy as allies for black students and all students, faculty, and staff of color.

Over the course of the past week, I have heard from and met with students, student leaders, and members of the Miami and Oxford communities. I know I and Miami have let black students – and –  many others down both this week and over time. I am deeply sorry and apologize unreservedly. I know good intentions are not enough; you are waiting for bold action and real change.  We must and will do better.  I must and will do more. 

As a public servant and leader of Miami, I must stand up and speak out – even more loudly. My leadership team and our whole community must amplify our allyship with black students and all students of color. We care, I care, deeply about our students. We are here, I am here, for you.

We dedicate our resources and voice to be a powerful force for transformative change.

We will institute deliberate, progressive, sustainable change. We will take action to build upon and add to future efforts.

We will add more training for our police officers.

We will review our policies.

We commit to more campus dialogue, training, and education.

We will collaborate with our city and NAACP on town hall discussions.

We will do even more with our global Miami plan.

We will fundraise for our efforts to support social change, equity, and justice. 

We will restructure and create a new model for inclusive excellence on campus to engage even more broadly.

We have much to do and many to engage in the coming weeks and months. We must choose to build a just community and always work to improve the climate. It means cherishing justice over convenience. It means choosing what's right over what is nice. It means crossing the racial divide and eliminating hate and bigotry. 

It means stepping out of our comfort zones and confronting injustices. It means voting – advocating for justice – holding ourselves, leadership, and elected officials accountable.

This is our charge; This is my commitment to you. 

We are grateful to the city of Oxford, the Oxford NAACP, and Latricia Hillman for this vigil to remember and honor the lives of black Americans unjustly taken; to reflect on ourselves and the groups and institutions of which we belong; to commit ourselves to a better future as a community and nation. 

Thank you