June 10, 2020

Special Message: Global Reaction To Racism And Police Violence

George Floyd Memorial Wall

"When we revolt it's not for a particular culture. We revolt simply because, for many reasons, we can no longer breathe." This poignant sentiment could have been lifted from any of the recent news coverage following the death of George Floyd. However, these words are 59 years old, published in Les Damnés de la Terre (The Wretched of the Earth), a 1961 book by the psychiatrist Frantz Fanon, one of the seminal texts in Columbia's Core Curriculum.

Echoing the sentiments of President Bollinger, in his letter to the Columbia University community last week, we did not think it was possible to forget we are in the midst of a historic pandemic. But since the 25th of May, our attention has been on the global reaction to racism and police violence right now. The world is watching.

In its 266-year history, Columbia University has been central to change in New York City, the United States, and the world. From its early beginnings, and the charged political climate of the American Revolution, a young undergraduate, Alexander Hamilton, helped create a new nation. Almost two centuries later, the landmark protests of 1968, recognized more widely for their focus on the Vietnam War, erupted on campus in response to the segregated gymnasium to be constructed in the nearby Morningside Park. These protests affected change to improve the relationship between Columbia and the Harlem community, established the university senate, and changed the curriculum to include black studies courses.

As part of that enduring legacy, we’ve again asked how we can help now to end racial injustice. We need to look for a better way—one that improves outcomes for everyone who is suffering. Speak up. Protest peacefully. Support the community. Donate where help is needed.

We have created a page on our website with charities and collectives who are helping support racial equality. We are not endorsing a single foundation or organization, but want to offer a selection for you to see and help where you feel you can make a difference.

In closing, last Wednesday in a virtual town hall, Former President Barack Obama CC'83 addressed the nation: "In some ways, as tragic as these past few weeks have been, as difficult and scary and uncertain as they’ve been, they’ve also been an incredible opportunity for people to be awakened to some of these underlying trends [of America’s systemic racism]. They offer an opportunity for us to all work together to tackle them, to take them on, to change America and make it live up to its highest ideals."

Whatever we can all do to help make lasting changes.

We support you.

Black lives matter.


Courtney & Stephen

Resources To Support Racial Equality

We have created a page with a selection of places to start, from US-based causes, to UK-led charities and collectives.



Upcoming Online Events:


Tea Time Online | Fridays @ 4pm BST

We're back for another Tea Time Online on Friday, 12th June, at 4pm. Each week has included familiar faces and new attendees from across the globe. We hope even more will join this week.

RSVP to receive the meeting link to this weeks online Hangout.


Exile Music: A Novel

A discussion with the author Jennifer Steil JRN’97

Join Jennifer Steil JRN'97 as she discusses her new novel Exile Music. She'll share how it was inspired by the Jewish community of La Paz, Bolivia, where she lived for four years.

ABOUT: Based on an untold slice of World War II history, Exile Music is the captivating story of a family of Viennese Jewish musicians who flee the Nazis in Austria in 1939 to seek refuge in Bolivia, the only country that would let them in. There, they are confronted with new languages, cultures, and eventually, some of the Nazis they sought to escape. 


Amadeus: Everything you've heard is true.

Directed by Miloš Forman (1932–2018)—two time Academy Award® winner for Best Director, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) and Amadeus (1984)—professor of film at Columbia University and co-chair (with his former teacher František Daniel) of Columbia's film department.

For the event, join Professor Elaine Sisman, the Anne Parsons Bender Professor of Music at Columbia University, and discuss the life and work of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791).

Cosponsored with Columbia Alumni Association of Hong Kong (CUAAHK)

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