UNCF Statement on the Recent Acts of Gun Violence Against Minorities
Nation’s largest provider of educational support to minorities calls for more diversity in law enforcement and criminal justice fields
WASHINGTON, DC—A new day. And yet another police shooting, within days of our country’s Independence Day.
Tuesday, it was Alton Sterling, a husband and father, shot at point-blank range in Baton Rouge by police. Wednesday night it was Philando Castile, pulled over in suburban St. Paul, MN, for a broken taillight, sitting in the car with his girlfriend and her 4-year-old daughter, shot just as he was reaching for his license. Of concern to UNCF is that black men of all ages remain overwhelmingly and disproportionately victims of incidents like these.
Just weeks ago, America witnessed the tragedy in Orlando, where more than four dozen lives were taken, and just as many wounded, at a gay nightclub. This tragedy came on the heels of the one-year anniversary of the Emanuel 9 tragedy in Charleston, SC, and two years after the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, and so many others.
“It’s beyond alarming at this point; it has become an epidemic,” said UNCF President and CEO Dr. Michael Lomax. “As someone who lived through the violence of the Civil Rights Movement, I daresay we’re seeing it repeat itself through horrific acts of gun violence today. I know that many Americans, like me, are personally disturbed by these repeated acts of violence that are taking away black and brown fathers and sons, as well as mothers, daughters and aunts.”
Today, UNCF along with education and policy partners from the Greater Washington Bureau of the National Urban League, Teach for America, College Success Foundation and Education Forward DC, joined together for a rally and moment of silence at UNCF’s headquarters. Staff members held signs bearing the names of victims of recent acts of violence, along with signs displaying the hashtags #WeWontBeSilent and #WeStandUnited.
These education partners collectively play a critical role in changing intolerance and bigotry, by working to bring more diversity to the criminal justice professions. UNCF is calling for more college students to commit to careers in criminal justice, including policing, law enforcement, and the legal and judiciary professions. Just as historically black college and universities (HBCUs) produced legendary U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and Tuskegee University produced Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, Esq., more great leaders in positions of authority are needed across all levels of law enforcement and the judicial systems.
“That’s the work we’re called to do at UNCF,” said Lomax. “Each day we manage scholarships and relationships with our institutions, go into communities, and raise funds that are truly helping our young people not only make it to and through college, but become servant leaders in their communities, just like the fallen Emanuel 9. As we extend our condolences to the Sterling and Castile families, we want them to know we will not remain silent on matters that are repeatedly affecting our community. We’re lifting our voices to stand united with them.”
UNCF (United Negro College Fund) is the nation’s largest and most effective minority education organization. To serve youth, the community, and the nation, UNCF supports students’ education and development through scholarships and other programs, strengthens its 37 member colleges and universities, and advocates for the importance of minority education and college readiness. UNCF institutions and other historically black colleges and universities are highly effective, awarding 20 percent of African American baccalaureate degrees. UNCF annually awards $100 million in scholarships and administers more than 400 programs, including scholarship, internship and fellowship, mentoring, summer enrichment, and curriculum and faculty development programs. Today, UNCF supports more than 60,000 students at more than 1,100 colleges and universities across the country. Its logo features the UNCF torch of leadership in education and its widely recognized trademark, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”® Learn more at UNCF.org, or for continuous news and updates, follow UNCF on Twitter, @UNCF and #WeWontBeSilent and #WeStandUnited.