Response to Racial Injustice and Unrest
A Message from GMF President Karen Donfried and Executive Vice President Derek Chollet
Our hearts are heavy today. We know everyone at GMF feels profoundly upset by the unrest roiling the United States, unfolding just blocks from GMF headquarters and in many of our neighborhoods. The horrifying killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis was the immediate precipitating event to the protests and outrage resulting from our bitter history of systemic racism in the U.S. When combined with the coronavirus pandemic, profound economic crisis, and deep political polarization, the U.S. is facing its most perilous moment in decades.
These are unsettling times, but we need to move forward with determination and resilience. In the short term, we plan to use upcoming Brussels Forum sessions to put our GMF spotlight on these issues. We also must continue the important policy work to address the many aspects of this crisis, from the challenges facing cities and the efforts of foreign actors to exploit and exacerbate this crisis, to its impact on America’s role in world. And we will continue to draw upon and support our network of Leadership Program alumni as they work to bring about change in their own communities.
Of course, it is important for GMF not only to use our stage for these conversations, but also to live by our values. Those values are captured not only by the “spirit of the Marshall Plan” and the principles of democracy, protection of human rights, rule of law and freedom of speech, but also in our diversity statement, posted on GMF’s website. That statement reflects our deep commitment to cultivating the heterogeneity that makes us strong: “GMF strives to provide an inclusive community comprised of individuals from diverse backgrounds in order to promote and maintain an environment of intellectual inquiry and dialogue rich in outlooks and perspectives. We value the depth that diversity brings to our mission, and we are deeply committed to building an environment in which contributions of every employee are accepted and valued.” May the pain of the present lead us to work harder to live up to these values – and to help find solutions to the significant problems we face.
These are stressful times, but we are in this together. We are reminded that nearly fifty years ago, GMF was founded to commemorate those who had shown the courage and foresight to help forge a better future after a period of profound global trauma, with the hope that future generations would use their example as inspiration to meet their own challenges. This is one of those moments. Our voices and ideas matter now more than ever.
In sadness, but with hope for the future,
Karen Donfried & Derek Chollet