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It is with great sadness for the families and friends of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor—and for where we are as a state and as a nation—that we at the North Carolina Civil War & Reconstruction History Center issue this statement.

The unjust and violent ways that these three American lives were taken from us serve as a stark reminder that our failure to protect African Americans is a failure to protect all of America. This failure has a long history, rooted in slavery, in the Civil War and its aftermath during Reconstruction, in the subsequent passage of Jim Crow laws, and in the resulting racial divide that continues to be dramatized before our eyes today. The Center strongly condemns this violence and pledges to do our part to continue educating North Carolinians with the truth of our history, based on rigorous academic research and well-vetted stories from North Carolina families from all walks of life whose ancestors lived through those times. Those stories, repeated at family gatherings through the generations for more than a century, give us some sense of how the Civil War affected all North Carolinians.

Today, the Center agrees wholeheartedly with North Carolina leaders who said this week that all of us need to have difficult and honest conversations about race in our society. At the Center, we have always had a commitment to facilitate that dialogue based on education, on scholarly knowledge, and on understanding developed by historians and ordinary North Carolinians alike. We commit to an educational platform that includes exploring the root causes of race-based violence, its consequences, evolution, and potential remedies. By doing so, we will have helped build a more perfect union by building a North Carolina that is stronger and safer for all of its citizens.

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