June 3, 2020

"Racial and Health Pandemic"


Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor are sadly the newest names on a roster nobody wants their loved one to be listed on.  It is a list that all too often reduces its members to hashtags and t-shirts.  They become etched in our collective memories as their unspeakable deaths are often devoid of the true justice they deserve.  The true justice that is so frequently denied people of color and African Americans in particular.

The tragic events that have transpired in recent weeks have further illuminated a spotlight on the racial divide that exists in our nation.  Brutal and often senseless murders of unarmed black people have continued to unfold with greater frequency, highlighted by what was witnessed in Minneapolis last week and the residual protests and unrest.  The cry for justice has been immediate and witnessed throughout the country.  The American Association of Blacks in Higher Education (AABHE) stands with those who want to see a more just and humane society.  We do so with civility, with compassion, and with a desire to seek understanding.  But we also do so with frustration and battle fatigue.  For it was just 5 days after Walter Scott was chased and viciously gunned down by a North Charleston police officer that we gathered in that same city for our annual conference in 2015.  Several of us went to the scene of the murder which was mere blocks from our hotel.  The makeshift memorials that follow such heinous acts was taking shape and the eeriness of a fairly fresh crime scene was etched in our collective memories.  And now a litany of similar assaults has continued to the present day.  When will they end? 

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Our present time has brought unique challenges, notably racial tensions in the midst of a health pandemic.  Nonetheless, it should be noted that the physical distancing that resulted from our collective need to respond to the worldwide coronavirus pandemic has not removed our social connectedness.  We remain intricately linked (albeit virtually mostly) one to another through our family and friends; through our respective academic and civic institutions; and through organizations like AABHE and others.  Our common pursuit of knowledge coupled with an equally compelling pursuit for justice can never exist in a vacuum.  This is witnessed by our constant need to explore new concepts, new ideas, and new perspectives along with a journey to find truth and righteousness.  AABHE has more than adequately prepared a pathway for these endeavors.  As such we join with others who will work to bring about an end to the systemic racism that allows acts of violence to occur by those sworn to protect and serve (as well as other vigilantes). 

As we navigate the intersection of this health pandemic and this racial pandemic we do so advisedly.  AABHE is primed to further the discussions, to produce the research, and to challenge the status quo until we have reduced and subsequently eliminated any further names from being added to the aforementioned roster.  Once again, in this most difficult time, we stand together and we stand for one another.  We must do so as we fully understand what Dr. King admonished, “Injustice anywhere, is a threat to justice everywhere.” 

Continue to do good work.


  • Coming soon: The next installment in the AABHE’s Online Education and Engagement Webinar Series here at

  • Again, regardless of what restrictions are lifted in your area, please remember that we are not out of the woods yet.  COVID-19 has ravaged the African American community at a significantly higher rate than other communities.  Protect yourself and be your own judge for when it’s safe to return to certain activities.  Please remember to stay safe.  The updated guidelines from The Centers for Disease Control (CDC):

“It’s all about the students”,

Dereck J. Rovaris, Sr
Dr. Dereck J. Rovaris, Sr.
President, AABHE