Dear Northern Virginia Urban League Members, Friends and Allies

     We live by the tenants of the Constitution which states our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Justice in the protection of those rights, is supposed to be the inheritance of all. But for people of color in this nation, the cruel irony and frustration in the face of seemingly willful discrimination is an irony that pains us all and one that we can no longer bear.  Racism in any form is the harshest and most significant form of violence. It attacks the mind, the body, the soul and the spirit of a people. It diminishes our ability to be self-sufficient, to be empowered and to thrive. It insults our intelligence and left unchallenged, threatens to destroy hope for even the most unconquerable – the urban, the black and the underrepresented.

     As we witnessed this month, the violence of racism takes lives. George Floyd’s murder was horrific and cannot be tolerated or explained away any more than the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and countless others. Just as the slaves who passed through the doors of our Freedom House slave quarters pre-Emancipation, the horrors of and terror of inhumanity cannot be justified. Neither can the modern day systemic racism that makes everyday life a fight for survival for the Black American. For some, this means that in their America taking jog, resting at home, or walking in their own neighborhood instills fear and trepidation of hurt, harm and danger. Have we made no progress in two hundred years?

In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

     Recent events have compelled us as an organization to examine and take action against the multifaceted nature of racism in the United States. Racism is brutalizing to everyone it touches. The Northern Virginia Urban League and it’s national organization, holds a longstanding value of upholding and working toward social justice and life changing economic empowerment for all communities. We must again, with pain for the current state of the Union, examine racism beyond the actions of individuals, for it is embedded in the very fabric of our society.

We acknowledge that understanding is needed to advance issues of race and color and the impact(s) they have on our organization, its communities, and its people. We will also challenge and work to correct any inequities during this critical time.

We are resolved to explicitly and publicly affirm our identity as an anti-racist movement.

We are resolved that our anti-racism commitment be reflected in the life and culture of the elevated officials governing the communities we serve and the policies, programs and practices as we continue to root out injustice and racism.

We resolve to develop and work to implement strategies that empower black business, concentrate black spending, enable the underemployed and enrich the under-educated with access and opportunity.

We resolve to unite as members and work to dismantle racism within all aspects of our government, educational systems and society.

     At its best, that is a part of the work Northern Virginia Urban League and all community organizations must do. At its best, The League has a profound civic purpose and stands for our highest aspirations as an empowered nation. At its best, our nation is a place where all perspectives and beliefs are respected, and all races, ethnic backgrounds, and cultures have a fair opportunity to succeed and be embraced. But we are not at our best. Let’s be clear: Black people are less likely to realize the American dream and are often hindered by systemic racial injustice and abuse. This is why the world has taken to the streets. Where there is no justice, there will be no peace.

     The privileged who do not know that fear, are called upon to recognize it, stand with those who endure it. And then actively work to reject and eliminate the bigotry and ignorance that is at the root of the violence that is racism. The Northern Virginia Urban League supports the protests, every voice against injustice and further calls for legislative, judicial and executive action to ensure justice, eradicate systemic racialized practices, and work to build communities that are economically empowered; embracing diversity and celebrating inclusion.

     We invite our allies to join in the work for change as together we can and must do better. We can start by acknowledging that, like so many Americans today, members of our communities are angry, pained and afraid. We can start by reaching out to them. The murder of George Floyd is only the latest example of racial violence in our country. Hundreds of years of oppression and inequality must now come to an end. Our youth care too much about tomorrow to let injustice stand today. And though it comes in the midst of a global pandemic, it is serving to further expose the racial inequities and economic divides that have plagued us for so long.

     The time to eradicate systemic and oppressive wrongs is well over due. The time for listening is now. The time for voting is now. The time for the circulation of black dollars to black businesses in black communities is now. The time for equity in education is now. The time to unify with our allies and invest in our future is now. The time to help members of our Northern Virginia communities in need, is now.

Join the Northern Virginia Urban League and work to empower communities and change lives!

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