To all members of the Northeastern community,

We have heard the chorus of raised voices demanding that we make real, at last, the promise of American democracy for the many millions of African-Americans who have given so much to build it. We feel, in the words of Dr. King, “The fierce urgency of now.”

On Monday, June 8, we will suspend all classes and close all administrative and academic offices on all of our campuses. We will use this time and space—exactly two weeks after the unjust and inhumane killing of George Floyd—to hold a Day for Reflection, Engagement, and Action. We will join together in unity with those all around the world who are grieving and angry over persistent injustice toward African-American citizens.

We will begin with an online vigil at 11 a.m. to remember George Floyd and all African-Americans whose lives have been brutally taken from us. At 2 p.m., we will feature a conversation with Professor of Law Margaret Burnham, founder of Northeastern’s Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project, on ways we can move forward together.

In the days that follow, we will commence a series of virtual town halls on race and justice led by Deans Uta Poiger and James Hackney, co-chairs of the Presidential Council on Diversity and Inclusion.

On June 19, we will gather on all of our campuses for a Day of Solidarity. June 19, often known as “Juneteenth” or Freedom Day, is traditionally a day to celebrate the emancipation of slaves in the U.S. We will gather together to listen, to speak, and to engage one another in advancing the cause of justice.

These events are just the beginning of a series of specific actions that Northeastern will undertake.

It is important to note that we won’t always get it right. We won’t always find the right words. But we must work together to address the pain. We must find the solidarity that we as a society—and as fellow human beings—so desperately need right now.

There is no time to waste. Working together in mutual trust and understanding to achieve the change that we seek, let us begin.


Joseph E. Aoun