A Letter From Interim Dean Mary Finn

June 1, 2020 - Interim Dean Mary Finn

The recent tragic deaths of Black Americans at the hands of law enforcement - George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, KY, as well as the pursuit and shooting of Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, GA by two white men--are stark reminders of the racism that exists in our society. We acknowledge that these actions are particularly harmful and devastating to the Black community and simultaneously diminish all of us. 

Advancing societal well-being is integral to the mission of the College of Social Science. Core to our values are equity, inclusiveness, and civility. As social scientists we know all too well the harmful effects of racism and implicit bias, and the social inequities they propagate. We affirm President Stanley’s statement of solidarity with our Black faculty, staff, and students. We commit in our words and in our actions to stand together with you and confront injustice. We commit to uniting with all people of color and other groups facing discrimination. 

Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall was a leading proponent of criminal justice reform. In his acceptance of the Liberty Medal in Philadelphia in 1992, he spoke of the meaning of liberty and while he saw strengths in the power of the legal system, he also noted each of us individually also had a duty. 

“The legal system can force open doors and sometimes even knock down walls. But it cannot build bridges. That job belongs to you and me. Afro and White, rich and poor, educated and illiterate, our fates are bound together. We can run from each other but we cannot escape each other. We will only attain freedom if we learn to appreciate what is different and muster the courage to discover what is fundamentally the same. America’s diversity offers so much richness and opportunity. Take a chance, won’t you? Knock down the fences that divide. Tear apart the walls that imprison. Reach out, freedom lies just on the other side. We should have liberty for all.”

 ---Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall


Let’s work together to build that bridge to ensure liberty and respect for all. 


Mary Finn

Interim Dean, College of Social Science

Michigan State University