Prairie View A&M University to launch Center for Race and Justice in response to death of George Floyd

Ruth Simmons, President of Prairie View A&M University, during her interview with Khambrel Marshall for both Black History Month and Newsmakers, in February 2019, at the KPRC's studio. (KPRC)

PRAIRIE VIEW, Texas – Prairie View A&M University President Ruth Simmons has announced the university is launching a Center for Race and Justice and will require a mandatory class on the history of race for incoming students as a response to the death of Houston native George Floyd and other similar murders that have taken place across the United States.

In a letter to students and staff, Simmons said Floyd’s death at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer has “reawakened a sense of fear and outrage across the world and especially among African Americans who recognize the crime as part and parcel of the reality that they endure every day.”

Simmons said she would like to take meaningful steps to protect the students’ future by instilling hopefulness and to “move beyond merely making empathetic noises to proactive steps to reclaim our sense of direction as an historically black university.”

“Our faith and identity and identity as a community kept us moving forward through some of the most disheartening periods in the country’s history,” Simmons said in the heartfelt letter. “Now we must call upon that identity to give us guidance and succor in the coming period.”

Simmons said as soon as it is approved, incoming students will be required to take a course on the History of Race and Class in the United States. Simmons believes the course can “serve to ground our students in the reality of their lives and help them better navigate how to cope with the often confusing treatment they may encounter in the future.”

In addition, Simmons has also proposed the establishment of a Center for Race and Justice under the rubric of African American Studies.

Led by Professor Melanye Price, the center will serve as a resource to “encourage teaching and scholarship that contributes positively to overturning systematic biases that impede the ability of minorities and other groups to be accorded their full rights under the U.S. Constitution,” Simmons said.

Simmons believes the death of Floyd is a catalyst to implement actions that can have a lasting impact on the historically black college, the students and surrounding communities.

Click here to read Simmons’ entire letter.

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