Joint statement in solidarity with our Black Community

Thu, 06/04/2020 - 11:00am

Dear Champaign-Urbana School Communities, 

As leaders in this community who are responsible for educating the bright, up-and-coming leaders of Champaign-Urbana, we want to openly stand in solidarity with our Black community in the midst of the current national, social, and political unrest. We understand that the facts surrounding the senseless deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, and killings of many other unarmed Black people over time have triggered grief, anger, shock, frustration, and pain across our community. We want our Black students, teachers, staff members, and families to know that we stand with you during this difficult time.  We recognize that systemic racism does not end when you walk into a school, and despite hard work and good intentions, our school community often falls short for our Black students.  We stand against racism, white supremacy, and anti-Blackness in our community and the world at large.

To our non-Black students, families, teachers, and staff members, we ask that you join together as a community in true allyship by first listening to the cries of your fellow Black community members with an open heart. Use your voice to speak with a common purpose in the fight against racial injustice, as silence is not an option. Moving forward as a collective will allow our community members, especially our Black students, to feel safe and find success. We invite you to reflect on ways that you too can support our Black students throughout our districts and the broader community. 

We see people of all ages, races, and socioeconomic statuses taking action through the recent peaceful protests, standing together with our Black community. Speaking with a common purpose, hearing all voices, and ensuring we openly discuss issues of race will be critical in the months ahead. 

Both Champaign Unit 4 Schools and Urbana School District #116 encourage you to think about how you can stand up for change and help in healing our community. As we move forward, our districts will continue to unite against racial injustices through involvement in community discussions and policy changes. However, we, as an entire community, must do everything we can in this moment to ensure that our Black students, families, teachers, and staff members feel safe, and we must start by being kind, accepting, understanding, and empathetic. 

We remain hopeful that our collective strengths will allow all of our students to find success in our schools, our community, and in their own personal lives.

 

With thoughts of peace, warmth, and strength,

Dr. Jennifer Ivory-Tatum, Urbana School District #116 Superintendent

Dr. Susan Zola, Champaign Unit 4 Schools Superintendent