Carla Hayden and Huntington President Karen Lawrence

President's Message: Committing to the Work Ahead

June 8, 2020 

A week ago, I sent a letter to my Huntington staff colleagues, expressing solidarity with protests against systemic racism and injustice in the wake of the brutal killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor.

The letter draws on the words of Langston Hughes and Loren Miller, powerful voices in The Huntington's collections, to indict deep historical injustice and violence against the Black community.

Like other cultural institutions throughout the country, we have been challenged over the past week to say what actions we are taking to back up our words of solidarity. Last year, for the first time in The Huntington's 100-year history, our community—our boards, staff, and senior leadership—created and ratified a five-year Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion strategic plan with a specific set of goals, action items, and metrics that will serve as a roadmap for the future. The plan identifies diversity, equity, and inclusion as core values in every aspect of our institution—building our collections, creating exhibitions, hiring practices, naming board members, forging partnerships, and more—and commits us to becoming a more inclusive, diverse, and better institution. We've included a link to the plan below. The current coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent economic contractions have only amplified the inequities of our society, making this work all the more pressing. By putting a plan in place, we made a commitment to ourselves, each other, and our public audiences, and we hold ourselves accountable. We are committed to continued reflection and modifications of our practices, and to the strengthening of our public mission. Actions as well as words. Black Lives Matter.

Karen Lawrence, President