A Statement to the Boston University History Department Community

Dear friends,

Please see the message, below, from Professors James McCann and Nina Silber.

Like so, so many of you, the Boston University History Department adds its voice to those opposing the widespread racial injustice and violence that has recently drawn the nation’s attention.  As historians, we are also deeply, and sadly, aware of a long history of institutionalized racism that has warped the social fabric of this country.  We are committed to addressing these problems in our teaching and our scholarship.

With this in mind, we affirm our support for the recent statement issued by the American Historical Association on the history of racist violence in the United States.

Indeed, we believe historians have a particularly important responsibility in this moment: to help guide a national conversation that can deepen our collective awareness of historical injustices and to underscore historical lessons that can be useful in the present.  As one New York Times opinion writer recently put it, historians, and humanists more generally, are uniquely situated to provide perspective: “To apply the lessons of the Spanish flu of 1918 and the urban riots of 1968 to the misery and rage of 2020? I want as many broadly educated, deeply reflective citizens and leaders as possible.”

We hope the writing and teaching done by our faculty can help provide some of that much-needed perspective. We welcome, too, the arrival of our new colleague, Professor Ibram Kendi, whose work has been critical to the dialogue about racism and anti-racism in this country.  And we applaud, too, the arrival of Professor Kendi’s Boston University Center for Antiracist Research whose mission is “to figure out novel and practical ways to understand, explain, and solve seemingly intractable problems of racial inequity and injustice.”  We look forward to working with our students as we do some of the challenging historical work involved in addressing these issues.


James McCann
Professor and Chair, Department of History

Nina Silber
Professor and In-coming Chair, Department of History