The History Department of The College of New Jersey condemns the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many others. We stand against the violence by law enforcement at peaceful demonstrations. We are in solidarity with our Black colleagues, students, and fellow citizens, and we pledge to use our historical perspective to examine and confront the anti-Black racism at the heart of American history.
In 1903, W.E.B. Du Bois, a historian and Black civil rights activist, remarked that “the Nation has not yet found peace from its sins.” More than a century later, many of the very same national sins – those tied to the same anti-Black racism – still abound. The murders of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor are merely the most visible reminders of them. We are still searching for this elusive national peace. As historians we are committed to following in the footsteps of Du Bois and using our scholarship, teaching, and community outreach to foster a more just and equitable society. “We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and to the future,” declared Frederick Douglass in 1852. “But now,” he then added, “is the time, the important time…You have no right to enjoy a child’s share in the labor of your fathers, unless your children are to be blessed by your labors.” We agree.