August 15, 2014
Michael Brown, Our Morehouse Brother,
As we begin a new academic year at Morehouse College, we are in memory of Michael Brown. Michael, a young Black man who could easily have been enrolled in our college classes – who looked like us, who is us – was gunned down in Ferguson, Missouri two weeks before beginning his college career. The instance of violence visited on Michael is not unique in the experiences of Black men and boys, college bound or not. The killing in Ferguson signifies a gross historical reality of Black men positioned as but only bodies to be governed, exploited and exterminated within the context of The Great Experiment that is the United States.
What we know of Michael Brown, his character, ambitions, and his friends’ testimony contradicting the official police narrative suggests the even more egregious nature of this likely racially-statist killing. That his shot-through body was left in public view for close to four hours recalls the spectacle of slavocracy-era revenge killings of recalcitrant enslaved Africans. Michael’s killing as spectacle is matched by the racist rhetoric of the police officers responding to the protests of Ferguson’s African American community. Police references to the protesters as ‘animals’ and threats against their collective person underscore the violent racism that we have the responsibility to confront forthright and without hesitation.
The number of Black men and boys who have been killed because of the popular and politicized framing of us as predators is heart wrenching and intolerable. It is no hyperbole to acknowledge that young Black men are understood through the lens of a police state, which has its roots in the near ‘ancient regime’ of American slavery.
We will not stand for this. We will live for Michael Brown and for others who were brutally killed before him for simply being Black men. In that living, we commit to scholarship that is practical and activity based. Social justice is at the core of Morehouse College, and we will work to achieve this for our Black men and Black boys and for the communities that so desperately need Black men and boys within them. We will leverage our thinking and doing toward liberation from violent attack on Black men and boys and others who are marginalized because of a hegemonic norm that refuses to understand us for the full, complicated, loving and loved persons that we are.
The undersigned faculty of Morehouse College invite others to stand with us against the sickening oppression that the killing of Michael Brown represents. We ask that you stand in whatever ways your respective spaces can afford. We need your creativity. We need your courage. We need your voice. We need your activism. We need your resistance. We must be free.
David Wall Rice, PhD
Associate Professor and Chair
Department of Psychology
Samuel T. Livingston, PhD
Associate Professor and Director
African American Studies
Marc Lamont Hill, PhD
African American Studies
Bryant T. Marks, PhD
Associate Professor, Psychology
Director, Morehouse Research Institute