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Department of Classics
The University of Mississippi

June 2020 faculty statement of commitment to antiracism

June 4 March in Oxford

Photo by Antonio Tarrell

We, the faculty of the Department of Classics of the University of Mississippi, collectively and unanimously condemn the role of police brutality in perpetuating racial oppression, in particular the use of excessive force against black people on a continual basis and against those who protest this injustice. We affirm the importance of the freedom of our students and all other people to express grievances in public and work for their redress, and also the value of reasoned and civil debate at places such as the university and in the media. We hope through our teaching, scholarship, words, and actions, to oppose and change the modes of thinking that lead to and support racist violence, policies, and institutions.

We acknowledge the particular racist history of the state of Mississippi and the University of Mississippi, and our responsibility to work actively to build and open doors to a more just and equitable state and institution.

We acknowledge the particular ways that Classics has been used (and is still used by some) in building and bolstering ideologies of white supremacy, and our responsibility as teachers and scholars both to document and work against this part of our field’s legacy. We condemn all racism, ancient and modern, and pledge to employ our minds, hearts, and voices to expose and refute it.

The history and cultures of the ancient Mediterranean provide countless arenas to consider issues such as cultural diversity and pluralism, political and social crisis, socially sanctioned violence, freedom and slavery, justice and evil. We commit ourselves to using these opportunities to encourage vigorous discussion and analysis of how these issues played out historically and how they continue to play out today, and to work with our students to find new paths.

In accord with our professional organizations (Society for Classical Studies, Archaeological Institute of America, Classical Association of the Middle West and South, American Classical League), we also commit ourselves to encouraging robust, respectful dialogue and to providing a safe, supportive environment in which everyone, regardless of race, national origin, gender, religion, identity, is treated with dignity.