A Time to Listen, a Time to Learn, and a Time to Act

Black Lives Matter protest in Montpelier, VT

Above: Protest against police brutality and racism; Montpelier, VT, June 7, 2020. Photo by Rokeby Trustee Missy Holland.

As the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in the United States in early February, many of us shuddered as we imagined myriad ways in which harm would come to our communities. Three months later the facts are clear that Americans of color, over represented in essential services and receiving inadequate health care, are disproportionately represented among those who have become sick with COVID-19 and those who have died.

The latest abuses perpetrated against African Americans are further evidence of systemic racism as we witness the killing of black men and women at the hands of present/former law enforcement officials and white vigilantes, including, in recent months: Ahmaud Arbery of Georgia, Breonna Taylor of Kentucky, George Floyd of Minnesota and Tony McDade of Florida.

These murders have raised voices of protest that are naming the wrongs and insisting on change.

Rokeby Museum is in full support of demonstrators
seeking racial justice.

We are inspired by Rachel Gilpin and Rowland Thomas Robinson, staunch abolitionists in the 1830s and 40s, who spoke truth to power, and stood firm in their beliefs in the equality of all human beings. Rokeby, in the 21st century, continues this commitment to advocacy work through speaking out and taking action.

We believe this time holds the potential of becoming a defining moment for good. In order for that to happen we must embrace what is before us. Now is a time to listen so that we may understand. We must educate ourselves about historic injustice, systemic racism, and pervasive inequalities, and we must support positive change.

We believe systemic racism, built on the backs of each succeeding generation of black Americans, must be disrupted and dismantled. In this endeavor, Rokeby continues as a valuable resource for learning. From exhibits and programs, to the books we carry in the museum store, we are here to illuminate the past and make connections to current events.  Now is the time for all of us to listen, to learn, and to act.  

Opportunities to Help

The Vermont Humanities Council has compiled a resource page providing suggestions for learn and for action. We support their choices. Read more.

Talking About Race

The National Museum of African American History & Culture has recently launched an excellent website for educators, parents or caregivers, and persons committed to Equity. Project leaders have said that talking about race takes our ideas further, and in support of exploration, they have presented eight highly pertinent topics and provided links to more than 100 separate resource modules featuring everything from classroom games to talks and audio files sharing strategies and successes. Highly recommended for all. 

Please feel free to contact us with resources that will help us all learn. As we’re able, we’ll pass them along here.