Historically, Memphis has been the crucible for fermenting powerful and lasting social change in America. Sadly again, with the tragic death of a beautiful young Memphian, Mr. Tyre Nichols, we confront the need for social change in Memphis and beyond. We have the opportunity to come together to seize this moment in Memphis, and in doing so, to also be a catalyst for change more globally.
We appreciate the empathy and concern of our students, staff, and faculty and their daily impact in the communities of Memphis and across the State of Tennessee. On that note, I want to share this thoughtful statement from our Associate Vice Chancellor of Inclusion, Equity, and Diversity and Chief Diversity Officer, Dr. Michael Alston:
This afternoon, poignantly on the first day of Black History Month, the family of Tyre Nichols celebrated his 29 years of life. As our university and city mourn with Tyre’s family and friends, we remember it was only Friday, January 27, that we viewed the images of police brutality that occurred in Memphis, Tennessee against Tyre Nichols with disbelief and deep sadness. What we witnessed was unacceptable, heartbreaking, and frustrating, and this horrific act reminds us of many other senseless killings (i.e., George Floyd and Breonna Taylor).
We must acknowledge the traumatic effect of this incident on various members of our UTHSC community in addition to acknowledging how loss affects each of us differently. The murder of Tyre Nichols prompts us to be more attentive to the emotional issues and responses experienced by those around us whose similar and repressed experiences have evoked emotions like fear, anxiety, sadness, isolation, frustration, and despair. To understand better, we must put ourselves in the shoes of others and consider how their experiences and perspectives may be different as we offer support or just simply ask how we can support them.
Our leadership, students, trainees, faculty, and staff have a record of empathy and standing together in challenging times like this as we lift and stand with the Nichols family, our partners, and our community. We acknowledge that individuals are strong in and of themselves, but we are stronger together.
Peter Buckley, MD
Michael Alston, EdD
Associate Vice Chancellor for Inclusion, Equity, and Diversity
and Chief Diversity Officer
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