Chancellor Carol Christ sent the following message to members of the UC Berkeley’s Black alumni community last week:
We are at a unique moment in history. The events of recent weeks have demonstrated for many Americans and people around the world the brutal reality that Black Americans have lived with since 1619: an engrained and systemic anti-Blackness across society. Voices against racial injustice and police brutality have been raised on the streets and at kitchen tables, in corporate boardrooms and in the national and global media. We are overdue for profound self-examination of our institutions and structures - including our university - and a commitment to national and campus cultures that support and embrace justice, equity, inclusiveness and a true sense of belonging.
As Chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley, I want to state unequivocally my pledge to address pernicious racism wherever it may be found on our campus and in our community. UC Berkeley, anchored by our core values, principles of community and historic mission to transform lives and the world around us, has an important role to play.
I want to recap some of the actions we have taken, building on a statement of support that I and Vice Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion Oscar Dubón sent to the campus community on May 29 , along with a May 31 joint communication by UC President Janet Napolitano and Regents Chair John A. Pérez:
On June 15 , the UC Regents unanimously endorsed Assembly Constitutional Amendment 5 (ACA 5), as well as the repeal of Proposition 209, which banned the consideration of race and gender in admissions decisions a quarter-century ago. Subsequently approved by the state Legislature, ACA 5 will come before voters on the Nov. 3 general election ballot, where it will require a majority vote for passage.
On June 18 , I sent a message to the campus community outlining initial steps that I am taking to re-imagine community safety on our campus.
The campus is also redoubling efforts to address diversity and the student experience, to create a truly welcoming campus environment, and to increase the diverse representation of our faculty, students and staff. This is reflected in the work of the Undergraduate Student Diversity Project, which I announced in December 2018. We are acting on the recommendations of working groups on three fronts: admissions policy and practice; outreach, recruitment, marketing and yield; and campus experience. We will also implement recommendations of the Graduate Student Diversity Task Force, launched last fall, which will include steps to better support Black graduate students.
This is a moment for reflection and action, and we cannot let this rare opportunity for change slip away.
It was more than four decades ago that James Baldwin came to Berkeley to speak to a crowd assembled at Wheeler Hall. His words still resonate with painful moral clarity, warning us in 1979 about the cumulative effects of degradation and dehumanization of a people.
Future histories of our current era will show how we responded to the urgent call of this moment.
At this inflection point in society, please know that I stand in solidarity with the Black community, and I invite you to share your ideas and join me in working together for change. I look forward to identifying opportunities for dialogue and conversation with the leadership of the Black Alumni Association in the coming weeks, especially as we have a clearer sense of the fall semester and new academic year. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly at chancellor@ berkeley.edu. I’m excited to hear your ideas.
In closing, I want to acknowledge and express my gratitude for the many contributions made by Black alumni to the benefit of UC Berkeley students, faculty and the university. You are part of a proud community that has produced leaders in wide-ranging spheres of society, including congressional legends, such as the late Ron Dellums and Barbara Lee, U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson, California Surgeon General Nadine Burke Harris, NBA star and activist Jaylen Brown, Dallas Mavericks CEO Cynthia Marshall, novelist Terry McMillan and innovator and entrepreneur Rue Mapp. UC Berkeley and the world are made greater by your contributions and leadership.