PUBLISHED:June 02, 2020

Statement from Dean Abrams on the death of George Floyd and protests nationwide


On Saturday, May 30, Dean Kerry Abrams sent a message to the Duke Law community in response to the death of George Floyd and the protests that have followed around the country.

Dear students, faculty, and staff:


I hope you have seen the message below from President Price about the shocking death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the protests that have followed around the country over the last several days. As a community devoted to the study of law, we are keenly aware of the devastating inequities that exist in our justice system and in society at large. But this terrible tragedy, like so many before it, has shown us once again how much work remains to be done to overcome structural racism and achieve true equality in our society for African Americans and other marginalized people. In our anger, frustration, and sadness over this callous loss of life, we must recommit ourselves to what we do best: ask hard and probing questions, conduct reasoned and thoughtful dialogue, and prepare our students for leadership in the face of injustice. In the coming days, we will announce a community discussion in which we can come together to do just that.


Warmest regards,

Dean Abrams


Earlier on May 30, Duke University President Vincent Price sent a message to the entire Duke community: 


Dear Colleagues, Students, and Friends,

This week, as the United States passed the grim milestone of 100,000 lives lost to the coronavirus, the horrifying death of George Floyd has drawn national attention to fundamental and systematic disparities of justice in our nation. The events in Minneapolis have occurred on the heels of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, the shooting of Breonna Taylor and in the context of the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 on communities of color, including here in Durham. For many people at Duke and elsewhere, the pain, trauma and sense of hopelessness is overwhelming.

Every day, throughout our country, African American and other marginalized communities have their safety and dignity threatened—in their places of work, in public spaces, and in their homes and neighborhoods. This ongoing history of structural and sustained racism is a fundamental and deeply distressing injustice, here as elsewhere.

But we as a university must do more than recognize and grieve these circumstances; we must work together to change them.  In our Duke statement of values, we affirm our commitment to trust, respect, and inclusion. In that spirit, Duke University will continue the work of addressing generations of racism and injustice, of seeking ways to approach one another with respect, and of building communities that are truly safe, supportive, and inclusive for all.

My very best wishes to the entire Duke family in this troubling time.


Vincent E. Price