As we recognize challenges, triumphs and leaders during Black History Month, we must remember the important role institutions like VCU and VCU Health have in the pursuit of justice and social, economic and health care equality.
This pursuit, coupled with our location in the heart of Richmond, demands that we acknowledge the lasting impact of racism on educational and health disparities — issues that particularly affect African-Americans. Issues exacerbated by the pandemic.
Tragedies of the summer connected to the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks and many others, which raised the social consciousness of our nation about of the inequities and disparities that still exist in America among our people. This awareness has catalyzed critical discussions across our nation and within our own university community.
You can join me in participating in many Black History Month events: VCU’s Office of Multicultural Affairs offers a calendar of events happening at VCU and VCU Health.
Our university, with its diverse student body, can tremendously impact the future of all of our students. At VCU, 17 percent of our students move up two or more income quartiles after they graduate, among the highest of any university in the Mid-Atlantic.
Every student can succeed here and can graduate into a world that needs them to be their authentic selves.
The past informs the future which is why the Board of Visitors approved the de-commemoration of confederate plaques and statues. This was not to erase history, as history cannot be erased. The university is creating on-campus space for important stories to emerge that contribute to broader and more representative realities of VCU.
For instance, with naming the Fine Arts Building to honor former VCUarts dean Murry DePillars, we recognize the accomplishments of a man who was dedicated to unifying Richmond. He brought diverse communities together to learn, to create and to engage in needed conversations through arts, culture, and music.
We are all delighted that the fine arts building bears his name. And our work to commemorate the extraordinary achievements of African Americans continues well beyond this month.
It is critical that we continue our work as a university and health system dedicated to serving all humanity as we pursue justice and social, economic and health care equality.