Excerpt from a letter from Megan Murphy to NCGS school heads and principals of U.S. schools on June 4, 2020.
“History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.” —Maya Angelou
In times of painful upheaval, we often find ourselves being reflective and turning to the words of those who have led the way before us. Not as a way of looking back, but to seek wisdom and guidance for how best to move forward.
What began as a nation in pain sparked a global outcry for racial equality. My heart is hurting and my soul is heavy for the endless injustices inflicted upon Black people for over 400 years, and evidenced most recently with the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. I am deeply concerned about our school communities and the students in our care, and I am thinking particularly about our Black and Brown students, families, and alumnae. As educators, we are in the unique position to help bring our school communities together to start enacting long-overdue change to end systemic racism.
The process won’t be easy because great change never is. If we are ever to achieve true racial equity, the hard work must be done.
Community and collaboration—engaging the power of many voices to strengthen our schools, communities, and world—have always been cornerstones of our coalition of girls’ schools. This is a time like no other to listen to and learn from the disenfranchised voices in our schools.
In concert with our Board of Trustees, NCGS will continue its ongoing commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice programming. During the 2020 NCGS Virtual Conference, Stand Up, Speak Up, we will be sharing and learning how to engage and empower girls to use their voices to enact change. We look forward to hearing from our closing keynote panel of scholars as they discuss Correcting the Historical Archive: Historical Empathy and Inclusivity in the Social Studies Classroom Through the Lens of Woman Suffrage, because as we write and teach history, it is crucial to consider whose stories are told. For the third consecutive year, NCGS will be offering in 2020-2021 its Headways™ program for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Practitioners and the previously announced theme for our Educating Girls Symposium—Creating Inclusive, Culturally Competent School Communities—will launch earlier in October 2020 instead of January 2021 as planned. NCGS will continue to look for other, long-term opportunities to ensure diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice are addressed in all virtual and in-person programming. NCGS is committed to being a leader in the change we wish to see and need in the world.
I invite you to read the statement, “Whatever Affects One Directly, Affects All Indirectly” from NCGS Board President and The Nightingale-Bamford School Head Paul Burke. The words of others often help us find the comfort and encouragement we seek. Please refer to the Social Justice, Anti-Racism, & Race Relations resources available on the NCGS website, which includes sample letters from girls’ schools to their communities in response to global protests to end systemic racism as well as a curated list of relevant reading and viewing.
In closing, I turn once again to the words of Maya Angelou, “Without courage we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.”
Megan Murphy, Executive Director, National Coalition of Girls’ Schools