The United States has its roots in interconnected systems of racial oppression and economic inequality, as well as in protest against excessive police power. Systematic violence against Black people in what is now the United States has continued unabated since 1619, with George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor among its most recent victims. The staff of the Clements Library shares in the outrage over their killings and grieves at their loss.
The Clements Library exists to collect, preserve, and make available primary materials that permit a full and honest recounting of
aspects of the American story. But we also bear the responsibility for examining our own institution’s history of fostering practices of collecting and scholarship that excluded the experiences and contributions of Black people. The staff of the Clements Library are committed to supporting research and scholarship that honors and elevates the experiences of those whose voices have been doubly silenced—first during their own lives, and again by later generations of collectors and scholars. We understand that we have a responsibility to the community of which we are a part, and commit to reaching out to partners to ask how we can be of service. But first and foremost, we pledge to listen. We also commit to ensuring that everyone—at the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor, around the state, and across the nation—experiences a feeling of true welcome at the Clements Library when they visit to study, research, and use our collections as part of the larger work of confronting our past and building a more just future.