Each one of us can work toward true justice.
In May of 2020 17-year-old Darnella Frazier, in the regular course of her day, saw police activity and then saw a man in pain. She stopped, pulled out her cell phone, and began recording. During the trial, Ms. Frazier expressed, “When I think of George Floyd, I see my father, my brothers, my cousin, my uncle. They are all Black. It could have been them.”
As a wife, mother, aunt, and grandmother of Black boys and men, I live in fear for their safety. This fear doesn’t go away, though I was a peace officer, former assistant district attorney, police commissioner, and one who understands the dynamics of excessive force. I have seen law enforcement officers put their lives on the line to protect our communities, and I have seen law enforcement officers represent the worst of what humanity has to offer.
Many of us have experienced a roller coaster of emotions in a year with a global pandemic, racial injustice, an insurrection, and mass shootings. This year has been particularly painful for our Cal communities of color. We have sustained fresh, painful wounds atop the scars of our nation’s troubled history. Our mission now is the work of healing: to protect the vulnerable, serve those in need, and shine the light of hope on our path forward. In this way, we will truly reflect the values of our alma mater.
I ask you today to make a difference through your service. The Cal Alumni Association launched Alumni Making a Difference, a virtual series featuring conversations between campus leaders and alumni as they navigate their feelings on this past year filled with constant uncertainty, pain, and change. The conversations highlight how service to others can bring about change and help with our own healing. In the opening episode, Dacher Keltner, faculty director of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, gives voice to our charge: “We need all of our alumni to keep building our strength and our place in the world.”
We are each called to heal. We are each called to build. Please join me in sharing this message throughout our networks.
Clothilde Hewlett ’76, J.D. ’79
Executive Director, Cal Alumni Association