Statement of AFT Higher Education Leaders on White Supremacist Actions in Charlottesville

WASHINGTON—Statement of American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and AFT higher education leaders (full list below) on the white supremacist actions in Charlottesville, Va.:

“We are angered and heartbroken by the largest open mobilization of white supremacists in the United States in decades. We grieve the murder of Heather Heyer and the injury of other peaceful protestors against racism and anti-Semitism who, numbering in the thousands, courageously exercised their First Amendment rights in Charlottesville this weekend.

“At the same time, we are sick with the knowledge that the racist uprising they protested is of a piece with a long history of racist ideology and terrorism that has afflicted every region of our beloved country.

“There are no shortcuts to reconciling that past; the realities of it are present at every turn. Charlottesville’s statue of Robert E. Lee is a memorial to one part of that history; the Confederate flags carried by racist demonstrators this weekend are another.

Though conscious of this history, we know that peaceful protestors against racist hatred—including our colleagues among the faculty, staff and students at the University of Virginia—are another part of that story. This weekend, those protestors did the work of bending the arc of history toward justice. We send them our solidarity and our support, our admiration for their bravery, and our commitment that we will be with them throughout whatever is to come.

“We remind President Trump that, as president, he automatically has a role in the long national dispute over race and racism, and whether and how the federal government will use its power in response. When he fails to repudiate immediately the support of David Duke, when he rails against immigrants, when he fails to properly name and condemn racist violence, when he says there is fault on “many sides”— Trump takes the wrong side in this history.

“We enjoin President Trump and his administration to take this opportunity to correct their course. They must reflect on their role in normalizing racism through statement and policy, and on their responsibility in creating the sense of moral license that enabled racist terrorism to manifest itself in the streets of Charlottesville and on the grounds of the University of Virginia. They must denounce white supremacy and white supremacist terrorism in the strongest terms.

“We recommit ourselves, and call on our fellow AFT members—including the nearly 250,000 members of our Higher Education division—to recommit themselves to repudiating racism and white supremacy. As teachers, public servants and unionists in this country, we have a special responsibility to struggle for racial justice.

“Most importantly, we call upon the president, state elected officials, and all those in positions with the power to do so, to enforce the law, protect Americans who justifiably fear racist violence, and investigate these events and bring the perpetrators of racist hate crimes to justice.”

Signed By:

  • AFT President Randi Weingarten
  • AFT Vice President and United University Professions President Fred Kowal
  • AFT Vice President and Professional Staff Congress/CUNY President Barbara Bowen
  • AFT Vice President and Henry Ford Community College Federation President John McDonald

Members of the AFT Higher Education PPC:

  • J. Philippe Abraham, Vice President for Professionals, United University Professions
  • Lacy Barnes, President, State Center Federation of Teachers
  • Elaine Bobrove, President, United Adjunct Faculty of New Jersey
  • Tim Crone, President, Northern New Mexico College
  • Roberta Elins, President, United College Employees of FIT
  • Shawn Fields, Co-president, Graduate Employees’ Organization, University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign
  • Paul Fong, President, San Jose/Evergreen Federation of Teachers
  • Bethany Gizzi, President, Monroe Community College Faculty Association
  • John Govsky, Co Vice-President, Cabrillo College Federation of Teachers
  • Alan Hall, President, AFT Lone Star College
  • Bonnie Halloran, President, Lecturers’ Employee Organization, University of Michigan
  • Tim Haresign, President, Council of New Jersey State College Locals – AFT
  • Arthur Hochner, President, Temple Association of University Professionals
  • David Hughes, President, Rutgers Council of AAUP Chapters
  • Quenby Hughes, President, Rhode Island College Chapter
  • Anthony Johnston, President, Cook County College Teachers Union
  • Jason  Lee, Secretary, United Faculty & Academic Staff
  • Kevin  Lindstrom, President, Minnesota State College Faculty
  • Nivedita Majumdar, Chapter Chair, Professional Staff Congress
  • John Miller, President, University Professionals of Illinois
  • Derryn Moten, Co-President, Alabama State University Faculty-Staff Alliance
  • Linda  Olson, Vice President, AFT Vermont
  • Charles Parrish, President , Wayne State University AAUP/AFT Faculty
  • Kevin  Peterman, President, Faculty Association of Suffolk Community College
  • Jennifer Proffitt, President, United Faculty of Florida
  • Elizabeth Ramsay, President, United Faculty of Miami-Dade College
  • David Rives, President, AFT-Oregon
  • Andrew Sako, President, Faculty Federation of Erie Community College
  • Kelly Stec, 2nd Vice President, Graduate Employees Union, Michigan State University
  • Karen Strickland, President, AFT Washington
  • Anne Wiegard, Cortland Chapter Academic Delegate, United University Professions

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The AFT represents 1.6 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.