America is on the brink of radical and historic change.
(June 2020) Nationwide protests responding to the police murder of George Floyd—as onlookers watched aghast—have opened new eyes to violence perpetrated by police on black and brown people in this country. While people of color need no lessons on the indifference by those in power toward racialized police killings, the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and George Floyd, within a period of weeks, have reached a previously untouched collective nerve.
Modern day evils--structural racism, economic exploitation, poverty, class stratification—all are compounded by a pandemic that has exposed the apartheid-character of our society. The result is justified outrage, and inspiring actions calling for justice, from the streets of urban metropolises to public spaces in rural townships. Our future is now where it should be—in the hands of the people demanding immediate change.
The A.J. Muste Memorial Institute carries forward the activist ethos of its pacifist namesake, Abraham Johannes Muste. The clergyman was a living example of the power of civil resistance. He believed that mass protest, as we're seeing flooding U.S. streets now, could bring an end to authoritarianism and entrenched corruption. Not for one moment did he abandon hope of seismic change through brave acts of the individual. Or that, joined together, those acts of courage can ignite the righteous power we now witness in action demanding equal justice for all. We saw this in the worldwide Occupy movement, and we see it now in the continued Black Lives Matter groundswell. In both cases, the president sought to shut down peoples' anger with a militarized response.
The Institute applauds and supports bold activism, acts of conscience, and radical initiatives to disrupt the status quo. For nearly half a century we have funded small, innovative projects that disrupt power imbalances. We celebrate and support the many creative ways that individuals and small groups can tip the balances in favor of a more just and inclusive society that does not discriminate based on the color of one’s skin.
The A.J. Muste Institute stands in solidarity with the Floyd, Taylor, McDade, and Aubrey families and the families of too many others who have lost loved ones to unpunished police brutality. As the entire law enforcement system is on trial, we continue to encourage on-the-ground initiatives to bring justice to those who have been long denied and equality to those who have been long marginalized.