Editor’s note: The 10 Texas law school deans have issued a joint statement condemning racism and remembering Houstonian George Floyd. It is reprinted in full below.
To the Texas legal community:
Each of us is the dean of one of the 10 Texas law schools. At first glance, our 10 schools might be considered a collective study in contrasts: Private and public. Large and small. Faith-based and secular. Urban and rural. Old and new.
The events of the last two weeks, however, have caused us to transcend those differences and to consider those issues that draw us together, including our steadfast, unwavering commitment to the values of equality, nondiscrimination, and diversity.
Each of us released statements to our communities in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed African American, while he was handcuffed in police custody; those statements are hyperlinked below. They contain common themes condemning racism, as well as a commitment to stand in solidarity with those in our society who all too frequently have been on the margins of our democracy, and all too horrifically have been subjected to violence.
Our nation seemingly is poised to have important and significant conversations about race and racism, particularly in our systems of justice. We recognize that our law schools have a special responsibility not only to add our voices to the conversation, but also to consider those actions each of our schools can take.
Our 10 law schools share a responsibility to educate the future lawyers of our great State. Our duty is to equip these future generations of attorneys with the ability to recognize injustice, including racial injustice — and the commitment to advocate for its eradication. Our mandate is to analyze critically both the systemic and particular causes of that injustice — and to provide a forum to debate and to devise solutions to those causes. Our commitment is to carry this responsibility forward for as long as it is necessary.
To that end, our 10 schools will provide support in every way we can to the state bar, the legislature, the judiciary, and the rest of the Texas legal community in efforts to eradicate racism and discrimination in our justice system. We will work to support mentoring and hiring practices that increase access to the legal profession for students of color. We will constantly seek to ensure that our schools are welcoming, supportive, and affirming environments for students, faculty, and staff of every race and background.
Conversations regarding race can be difficult, and there are no easy solutions. The problems may even seem intractable, and too challenging to take on. Nevertheless, we accept this challenge because we have confidence that, working with the legal community throughout Texas, we can identify and develop meaningful programs and actions that will help us all address systemic racism and discrimination in the legal system, create a more diverse and inclusive legal profession, and ensure that our laws are applied more justly to people of diverse backgrounds.
The Texas ethos is to do what is right and not to back down from a challenge. Our law schools are up for that challenge. We hope you will join us.
Brad Toben, Baylor University School of Law — Statement of June 5
Michael F. Barry, South Texas College of Law Houston — Statement of June 1
Patricia E. Roberts, St. Mary’s University School of Law — Statement of June 3
Jennifer M. Collins, SMU Dedman School of Law — Statement of June 2
Robert B. Ahdieh, Texas A&M University School of Law — Statement of May 31
Jack Wade Nowlin, Texas Tech University School of Law — Statement of June 3
Joan R. M. Bullock, Thurgood Marshall School of Law — Statement of June 1
Leonard M. Baynes, University of Houston Law Center — Statement of June 4
Ward Farnsworth, University of Texas School of Law — Statement of June 1
Felecia Epps, UNT Dallas College of Law — Statement of June 9