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To President Ryan and the University community —
As members of the University Executive Master of Business Administration Class of 2024, we write to condemn the placing of a noose on the statue of Homer on Grounds this week. We also write to support those who are in pain.
As we acknowledge this moment, we recognize that there are things we don't know. Who placed the noose? Was it someone from the University community? Why?
We do know, as Ryan described in his letter to the community, that “a noose is a recognizable and well-known symbol of violence, most closely associated with the racially motivated lynchings of African Americans." In fact, there are few — if any — symbols more closely associated with racially-motivated, anti-Black violence than a noose. For over a hundred years, in Virginia and throughout the American South, the noose has been an instrument of torture and murder. It was wielded against Black men and women as part of an organized campaign to prevent Black Americans from becoming equal participants in the experiment that is America and full beneficiaries of its promise.
We also know that the University and Grounds have a long and complicated history with race. Enslaved laborers built the Lawn on which the Homer statue sits. In 2017, the Lawn was the site of racial violence when hundreds of white men gathered there — with torches — chanting white supremacist ideologies and attacking members of our community.
Regardless of our backgrounds and races, we know enough to recognize the noose hung on the Homer Statue as a painful and important reminder that in 2022, we still have much work ahead of us.
To those in pain, we see you and we recognize our role in that work. Because we subscribe to a higher and more inclusive sense of community, we believe that this act was directed toward all of us. We also believe that there is both an individual and a collective responsibility to advance the human condition. Individual responsibility calls us to be aware of how differently others are experiencing this event. Our collective responsibility requires us to work together as a broad, diverse community to advance change.
A few weeks ago, we gathered as a class for the first time in Charlottesville to begin the Executive MBA program. We spent a week together focused on leading change. While we are early in our journey, our attached signatures reflect our understanding that leading change includes not being silent in moments like this. It includes being willing to speak up because there is harm. It includes taking a moment to consider both the impact this action has had on Black people and more broadly, the impact acts of discrimination have on our collective community.
As the Darden School of Business’ Executive MBA Class of 2024, we are committed to reaching out to each other, making a genuine effort to learn from this moment and leading by example to effect necessary change.
Darden School of Business EMBA Class of 2024
This letter was signed by over a hundred members of the UVA Darden EMBA Class of 2024 the weekend of Sept. 10 and 11.