Standing Together Against Injustice

Dear SMU Dedman School of Law Alumni,

Our hearts are breaking over the tragic and senseless killings of George Floyd on the streets of Minneapolis, Ahmaud Arbery on the streets of Georgia, and Breonna Taylor in her own bed in Kentucky.  As I wrote in a message to our law students on Friday, the law school shares in the national grief and outrage surrounding these terrible incidents of brutality against Black Americans. Tragically, these are just the most recent examples of a horrific history of violence toward and discrimination against people of color in this country. 

As lawyers, we have a special obligation to demand that we do better and actively work together toward a more just and compassionate nation free of the discrimination and hatred that continues to plague this country.  If we were able to gather in person at the law school, we could come together to mourn, express our outrage, and brainstorm about how best to further the cause of justice, utilizing the tools of peaceful protest and action.  But we cannot allow the fact we are not physically together at the moment to keep us from the critical work we must do to address injustice and protect marginalized communities, not only from acts of violence, but also from the inequities laid bare by the COVID-19 pandemic and its disparate impact on people of color. 
To our alumni, students, faculty, and staff of color and your families, we stand with you during this difficult time and always. We deeply value you and your contributions to the legal community and to our world at large. We mourn with you, and we are here to support you in any way we possibly can. Now more than ever, we must all reaffirm our commitment to inclusion, diversity, justice and compassion for each other.

As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. reminded us, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”  George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor matter, and as a legal community committed to advancing the cause of justice, we cannot be silent.

Dean Jennifer Collins
Judge James Noel Dean and Professor of Law