Published on June 4, 2020  

Dear Cumberland Community,


Like you, I was horrified at the images of George Floyd’s death and all it said about our society. I struggled and still struggle to find the words to address this tragedy. I struggle because the words have all been spoken before. I struggle because I cannot pretend to comprehend the pain, anger, fear, frustration, and other emotions that people of color must feel. So for now I will just express my solidarity with those who are grieving George Floyd’s death and who are calling (again) for an end to racial injustice and violence.   

At Cumberland, we try to set the tone for maintaining respectful dialogue even as we prepare to be potential adversaries in the courtroom. Let us continue that pledge to engage each other respectfully and lovingly in the coming weeks and months to find together the words to address this tragedy and—more importantly—the actions that will prevent its repetition. As lawyers, future lawyers, and members of a law school community, we have a special obligation to make our legal system just and to repair its systemic flaws that thwart justice. We must work together to do that. 

As Dr. Westmoreland said in his note, though, “systemic racism does not endure simply due to corrupt systems; it endures because of hatred within individual hearts, sometimes known and sometimes not.” So in addition to working to repair the flaws in our legal and law enforcement systems, we must all listen to each other, look honestly in our own hearts, and change ourselves.  We must work together to do this as well.   

We have a lot of work to do, but I am glad to undertake it with the Cumberland community that I treasure. We can and must do our part to make things right. 

Henry C. (Corky) Strickland

Dean and Ethel P. Malugen Professor of Law