Lori J. Carrell
How did you feel when you first learned of what happened to George Floyd on May 25, 2020?
I was overwhelmed with sadness, hoping that the first tragic report was somehow a mistake. Then, I saw the video.
Did you view the video? If so, what emotions and thoughts did you have upon seeing the video?
I was appalled and grieved, imagining the heartbreak and outrage that George Floyd’s family must be experiencing. I moved through many emotions and thoughts—one of my deepest concerns emerged from learning that 17-year-old Alyssa Funari had to witness this egregious violence firsthand—and thinking about the lasting impact and trauma for her and the millions of young people who would view the video of the killing, including students on our campus.
How did you feel when the Derek Chauvin Verdict was announced?
Justice can be of some consolation, and I felt hope that such was the case for the Floyd family though the conditions that allowed such an abuse of power need to be eradicated so these kinds of incidents—whether videotaped or not—do not occur.
What actionable steps have you taken since the murder of George Floyd?
On May 25, 2020, the pandemic-interrupted, spring semester had ended, and our diverse student community was separated. Since then, our campus has simultaneously been navigating the pandemic and finding new ways to support, listen to and learn with our students. We have created a multi-step action plan that we will continue to refresh. Student leaders recently hosted a deeply meaningful Ebony Night celebration for Black History Month, with a moment of silence for George Floyd and others lost to injustice. Those student leaders provide a realistic hope that young people who have come of age during this historic season are modeling new ways to live University of Minnesota – Rochester’s Grounding Value of respect: “a value for habits of interaction that demonstrate the worth and dignity of each person.”
Personally, I’ve been digging into the history and current state of racism—reading, listening, viewing, conversing. Some of the people whose thoughts and writing have been meaningful to this learning include George Thompson, Freeman Hrabowski and Sun Yung Shin as well as several UMR student poets, artists and leaders. As these students graduate and move on to lead and serve as health care professionals, the illumination of injustice through George Floyd’s death has been formative on their habits of mind and heart. I look forward to future alumni gatherings to discover how these tragic events will have impacted their lives and careers.