We Stand Against Racism and Systemic Brutality: Special Collections & Archives Commitment

Special Collections & Archives staff condemn racism and systemic brutality in all its forms. We grieve the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbury, Tony McDade, and David McAtee, and other lost lives. We recognize their deaths as a part of our nation’s long history of marginalization, disenfranchisement, violence, and oppression.

As Special Collections & Archives, our goal is to connect students, faculty, researchers, and the community to primary resources. We support active learning, engagement, and critical thinking. We seek to provide the materials that illuminate contexts and history. We collect and preserve cultural memories, historical documents, and organizational records. We remain committed to our core professional values of social responsibility, diversity, accountability, responsible custody, and trust.

We must also recognize that the structures of archives and special collections are rooted in practices informed by white supremacy and racism. We have a continuing responsibility to face systemic and historic racism, to reflect on how our professional practices and standards are shaped by white, heterosexual dominance, and how those practices contribute to hiding and, often, damaging the lives of Black Americans, Indigenous peoples, People of Color, and LGBTQ people. We reaffirm our commitment to do the work needed to dismantle those structures and practices. We commit to listening, to learning, and to creating just and equitable practices.

We reaffirm our commitment to connect all people to historical materials and to support critical discussion and thinking. Justice often comes from the analysis and interrogation of the historical record. We commit to working with communities to ensure that diverse perspectives and histories are represented, preserved, and shared. We commit to the effort it takes to ensure that all people feel welcome.

We commit to diversity, inclusion, and equity in all aspects of our work. We understand that we must both confront racism and discrimination, implicit and explicit, head on and that that work is not only talking about slavery and violence. We recognize the power, resilience, innovations, and contributions of Black Americans, Indigenous peoples, People of Color, and LGBTQ people. We commit to sharing and preserving that history not as an afterthought but as core to the history of our university, our community, our nation, and our world.

FSU’s President, John Thrasher, expressed our belief that “[i]t is important during these tumultuous times that we reaffirm the values that we, as a university, hold most dear – respect, civility, and diversity and inclusion – as well as our commitment to justice and equality.” Our work to develop truly diverse and inclusive collections, practices, and spaces cannot be done in isolation. We welcome dialogue and invite community feedback. We can be reached by email at lib-specialcollections@fsu.edu

Published by Florida State University Special Collections & Archives

The Special Collections & Archives Division of the Florida State University Libraries advances research by acquiring, preserving, and providing access to rare and unusual books and original primary source materials. The division includes the Special Collections & Archives Research Center, Heritage & University Archives, The Claude Pepper Library, and the Digital Library Center. Through exhibitions and programs, the division supports active learning and engagement. Collections of unique manuscripts, historic maps, rare books, photographs, and university archives offer abundant opportunities for discovery and scholarship. Strengths of the collections include Napoleon and the French Revolution, poetry, political papers, Florida history, Southern business history, and the history of Florida State University.

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