Good morning Chair Cowles, members of the board. For the record my name is Priscilla Mayowa and I’m currently serving as President of LeadMN. The past few weeks has been a very traumatic one for the black community. The Brooklyn Center Police murdered Daunte Wright and it seems to be the common response, the state let police get away with harassing protesters and the community they had hurt. Just yesterday while a momentous verdict was being read, Police in Columbus, Ohio murdered Makiyah Bryant, a child who was in need of help. We will all do well to remember that as we celebrate the verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin, black people are still grieving and healing and grieving and healing.
In the time all of this has happened, has Minnesota State done enough to address racial inequities that infect our community and the police violence that is a byproduct of that disease? As a student, I feel that this lack of progress is a direct let down for the BIPOC community as a whole. In the emails that made the rounds from administrators after the verdict was announced, one common phrasing appear in the communication; This is to be expected: meaningful social change is rarely easy or quick.
It reminded me of the words of the great Martin Luther King Jr. “We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”
A very common excuse that has been used by institutions for decades to justify moving slowly on radical and much needed social & racial justice reform. I hope Minnesota State is not setting itself up to use that same excuse in delaying the work of Police education reform. People in the BIPOC community are demanding change and demanding it now. Minnesota State does not have the luxury of sitting on its hands any more.
Which brings me to Equity 2030. First of all, I like to say that we must not conflate the work of Equity 2030 with the work of police education reform. They are separate and distinct in the goals they need to achieve. LeadMN as part of a coalition of bargaining units and student associations have come together to ask that the system adopts the recommendations put together by the Chancellor’s fellows. In your board packet, you will find a link to the students United’s website that hosts our joint letter addressing this ask.
I also want to urge the board to hold the chancellor accountable in holding campuses accountable on the progress of Equity 2030. If people are not ready for the change that Equity 2030 is going to bring, it is best that they get out of the way. We can no longer wait for well-intentioned, well-meaning people to catch up and be ready to move with an already raging current of radical change. The chancellor and the system must hold campuses accountable for Equity 2030 by ensuring these well intentioned people are not standing in the way. We are tired of asking for change nicely. We did not get the victory on the Chauvin trial by doing that. That is the old way. We are demanding that meaningful change happen quickly so that our communities can move from constant grieving to sustained healing. Thank you!