Incoming CSU president says he stands in solidarity with those fighting for justice

Jack Thomas
Jack Thomas

The incoming Central State University President Jack Thomas penned a note to the community this week in response to the George Floyd killing and the protests that have ensued.

In the note, posted on Twitter and other social media platforms, Thomas said he stands in solidarity with peaceful protesters and others who are advocating for criminal justice reforms and improving race relations in the country.

“As I prepare to begin my journey as president of Central State University in July, I stand ready to work with any and all from our campus and the broader community to make sure our nation is safe for everyone, and that every citizen is empowered to make the changes needed to keep America the shining beacon of hope for freedom-loving people all over the world,” Thomas wrote.

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Floyd is a black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knees on the man’s neck for nearly nine minutes. The officer and three others have been charged in his death.

Protests — some violent — have erupted around the country and world since Floyd’s death.

Nobody should live in fear of police in this country, Thomas says in his letter. But Floyd’s death is an indication that some people who are sworn to serve and protect continue to kill black people under the guise of law enforcement, he said.

The killing must stop, and until it does, Thomas said, no American should sit idly by. Like the Civil Rights leaders of the 1960s, the approach to stop the injustices should be “strategically planned, coordinated and executed to impact CHANGE,” Thomas says in his letter.

“As a black man who has raised two black sons, I long for the day when I need not fear for my life, or the lives of my sons living our everyday lives,” he writes. “Too often black skin — particularly black male skin — provokes fear among our white neighbors and coworkers. That fear has given license for ill-trained, hyper-aggressive or prejudicial police officers to take black lives without cause or consequence.”

“In America,” he continues, “it is not enough to just say that we stand for the guiding principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness without concern for gender, race or religion. We must actively live these principles every day. When we see injustice big or small in the grocery store, at our workplace, or on the street, we must act.”

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In the letter, he urges the community to hold elected officials and law enforcement leaders accountable, and them let know that police killings and other injustices are unacceptable.

“One of our greatest powers is the right to vote,” Thomas says. “It goes beyond acknowledgement and includes registering to vote, getting friends and relatives registered, and making sure that citizens are not denied their constitutional right to vote.

Thomas, hired in February, will officially begin his duties as CSU president on July 1, a day after current President Cynthia Jackson-Hammond retires.