Black Lives Matter

A colorful mural of George Floyd is surrounded by flowers and handmade signs.
A memorial was created outside of a market in Minneapolis to honor George Floyd shortly after his death. Photo: munshots on Unsplash

The following is a statement from Ridgway White, Mott Foundation president and CEO.

Both the coronavirus pandemic and the death of George Floyd lay bare the impact of anti-Black racism that has been stitched into the fabric of our nation over the course of four centuries.

The Mott Foundation supports efforts to promote a more just, equitable and sustainable society. Yet we know such a society will never exist as long as racism persists.

It would be bad enough if leadership to end racism were merely absent at the federal level. Instead, there seems to be malevolent intent to stoke fear and hatred and sow division. We are as far from the promise of our nation as we have ever been.

At the local level, however, the city of Flint provides a hopeful example of the change that might be possible during this inflection point. In our community, citizens relentlessly work to bend the arc of history toward justice. They did so again in peacefully protesting George Floyd’s death.

Fortunately, law enforcement officers listened, laid down helmets and batons, and walked with the protesters. I hope that feeling of solidarity will continue and carry forward to future interactions with the community.

Flint’s elected officials also acted as leaders — not politicians. Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley has formed a task force of Black mayors to address statewide issues of systemic racism. He also created a Black Lives Matter Advisory Council to the Flint Police Department to ensure those working to address police brutality have a seat at the table.

Flint’s City Council passed resolutions denouncing illegal police restraints and declaring racism a public health crisis. Flint’s chief of police is instituting training in Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation, and the department will review its policies to ensure they meet the guidance of City Council.

The Council also approved a draft ordinance that would make it illegal for anyone to report a “crime” because the color of someone’s skin made them nervous.

These are first steps, but they have been swift and sure.

While the President of the United States seems intent on dividing our country, the people of Flint, the city’s elected leaders, its law enforcement, faith leaders, nonprofit organizations and others are showing a fractured nation how it is possible to unite for change.

To the Black members of our community: We see you. We hear you. We stand by you.

The Mott Foundation is here to listen, learn and work with you to help end racism and address other challenges our community, nation and world face — today and in the future.