Statement of Support
Statement of Solidarity
The Murray State Department of English and Philosophy stands firmly with Black Americans and all people of color. This summer, civil rights demonstrations have swept the nation, including several that have taken place in Murray, Kentucky, and the surrounding region. At many of these demonstrations across the nation and here in our own state, protesters have been met with draconian force. Police in Louisville, for instance, have routinely attacked peaceful demonstrators with tear gas—a chemical agent banned from warfare in 1925 by the Geneva Conventions. We have reason to believe many of our own students have been present at these demonstrations, where agents of the state have assaulted civilians for exercising their First Amendment rights. As a department, we express our solidarity with those who oppose the systemic patterns of police brutality and police militarization that disproportionately harm people of color. We condemn white supremacy in all its guises. We denounce all acts of state violence and repression against protesters. And we share the anguish and anger of the millions who fill the streets to grieve the murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, and countless others.
As teachers, writers, and scholars of language, literature, rhetoric and philosophy, we acknowledge the power of education, critical analysis and cultural engagement to foster the practices of empathy, respect, curiosity and historical memory that we must continue to cultivate if we are to establish and maintain a just society. Working toward a just society includes recognizing the intersectional nature of race, gender, sexuality, class, ability and other factors. As the department that houses the Gender and Diversity Studies (GDS) program, we recognize our unique responsibility to carry out the university’s broader commitment to diversity. In recognition of this responsibility, we commit to building on the work undertaken by our curriculum and program committees in recent years. This work has included a significant revision to the major in order to require courses in diverse literatures, an overhaul of one of our principal University Studies courses (HUM 211, The Humanities Tradition), and numerous new course proposals ranging from Special Topics in Diverse Literatures to World Literatures since 1900.
In light of recent events, however, we recognize that we still have much more work to do, not only in our curriculum design but also in the daily work of teaching, mentoring, service to the university and the surrounding community and supporting faculty and staff of color by working to identify and dismantle long standing barriers to genuine diversity and inclusion at Murray State University and in Calloway County. When our faculty members reconvene for the fall, we will move swiftly to establish concrete goals for the upcoming academic year and beyond. To that end, we will invite feedback from our current students, alumni of our department and colleagues across the university, and we will announce these goals publicly after the start of the fall semester. As members of this department, as faculty of Murray State University and as part of the Murray community, we owe it to our students and to the broader public to promote dignity and justice throughout our teaching, scholarship, creative activity and service because we believe Black Lives Matter.
The mission of the Department of English and Philosophy is to offer degree programs to educate students in literary and philosophical content knowledge, critical thinking, and communication skills, thereby preparing them to become teachers, writers, and other professionals and to pursue further academic studies. This department helps Murray State University achieve its goals by offering three graduate programs, two graduate certificate programs, and five undergraduate programs in the core areas of arts and humanities.