Thursday, June 11, 2020 (Camden, NJ) – “This past Tuesday, we saw the tremendous outpouring of pain, suffering, love, and firm resolve as Mr. George Floyd was laid to rest in Houston, Texas. His murder has exposed to the world what has been evident to Black people for more than four hundred years—that the social construct of race and the American systems built around it result in the senseless loss of Black lives. The pervasive and unaddressed issues of systematic and systemic racism against Black people are a miscarriage of justice that have plagued our society and brought about social inequities and bias. This is a call to action for all citizens of our nation to change this inexcusable, untenable condition today and ensure that it never happens again.
Together, we denounce all forms of racism. We honor and say the names of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Botham Jean, Oscar Grant, Atatiana Jefferson, Bettie Jones, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Laquan McDonald, Dominique White, and hundreds of others (known and unknown) that have fallen victim to police brutality. Their deaths shed a painful light on the disadvantages that Black people face and endure and the failure of systems within our country to protect them. The coronavirus pandemic of the past few months has brought a sharp focus on the gross inequities that exist in our nation, showing how it affects all facets of life.
As non-profit organizations in Camden, New Jersey, we have been engaged in this fight for years and have seen firsthand the inequities that are centuries in the making—from our segregated neighborhoods to the coronavirus pandemic. We are also here to witness and precipitate the progress made. We must enact policies that create space for integrated racial equity. We must work towards an equitable judicial system and provide access to educational opportunities, clean environment, health care, quality housing, personal safety, food security, and living wage jobs for all. These are not privileges given to one group by another. They are universal rights. They are basic human rights.
We stand against all de-facto and de-jure racism and bias that exist in our society. We acknowledge that these societal inequities are real and present a significant barrier to people of color and communities working to reach their full potential. To that end, we will redouble our own efforts to push for reforms, investment and access for the residents of Camden.
As human beings we must reexamine our values and demand change. It is not enough to say one is “not racist"… we must do better. We must be actively anti-racist. We must advocate and call out racism and the systems it supports at every turn. Lives are being taken without remorse. We must do better to acknowledge this crisis, increase the level of conversation, and take steps to affect change.
Lastly, this unending continuum of racism must stop. Black Lives must Matter. The “Black Lives Matter” movement is not the end but the beginning of a journey to heal, and right the sins of the past. Black lives must be loved, needed and cherished.”
With Peace and Solidarity,
Richard Smith, President of the New Jersey State Conference of the NAACP
Richard Stagliano, President & CEO, Center for Family Services
Kris Kolluri, President & CEO, Cooper’s Ferry Partnership
Bryan Morton, Executive Director, Parents for Great Camden Schools
Sheila Roberts, President, Cooper Lanning Civic Association
Dan Rhoton, Executive Director, Hopeworks
Al Dyer, Executive Director, Camden Health and Athletic Association
Daniel L. Lombardo, President & CEO, Volunteers of America of Delaware Valley
Kathleen Noonan, CEO, Camden Coalition of Health Care Providers
Nahea Dean, Executive Director, Camden Education Fund
Elena Piperno, Director, Domenica Foundation
Carlos Morales, Executive Director, Heart of Camden
Pilar Hogan Closkey, Executive Director, Saint Joseph's Carpenter Society
Jessica Franzini, Executive Director, Camden Lutheran Housing, Inc.
Caren Fishman, Executive Director, Camden Special Services District