SOA Council Statement on Racial Inequality and Black Lives Matter

June 3, 2020—We, at the Society of Ohio Archivists, are profoundly saddened and outraged by the numerous, unjustified deaths of Black men and women in our country.  We grieve the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless more who have died because of police brutality fueled by hate. We grieve the brutal lynching of Ahmaud Arbery at the hands of vigilante white men, including a former police officer. We condemn the use of violence, vigilantism, and the weaponization of supremacy, and we denounce police violence against Black people.

As archivists, we know this problem is deeply rooted in the history and founding of our nation. It is also rooted in our institutions, including archives. We are committed to recognizing and breaking down systems of white supremacy within our own archives. For decades, the historical narrative has largely left out the stories of Black people in our country. Part of our work as archivists includes creating a space where we can collaborate and dialogue with those whose stories have been marginalized, ignored, and silenced. Our efforts and missions include learning from the past to prepare for the future. We can only do that if we include all voices.

Archives are not neutral spaces. We preserve ALL stories of our shared history, good and bad. We ask hard questions and have difficult discussions about our documentary past. In doing so, we are advocating for telling those stories, no matter how uncomfortable or painful they are. We exist to ensure that the future may benefit by learning from the past.

The Society of Ohio Archivists asks all of our members to stand in solidarity with the Black communities across this country. We also hold ourselves and our members accountable to act beyond our statement today and to follow up with actions that demonstrate a willingness to center Black lives, because we recognize the inherent harm of decades of white supremacy. This is not a Black issue; it is a human rights issue. We believe none of us are free until all of us are free, and we seek justice for the centuries of abuse and systemic racism that have denied Black men, women, and children their heritage, dignity, equality, and far too often their lives.

Black Lives Matter. 

The Society of Ohio Archivists Council