Letter from the chair

Dear Students,

In August of 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington and told the nation that "we can never be satisfied as long as African-Americans are the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality." He continued, "we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream." As we cope with the tragic death of George Floyd, we are reminded just how far we are from achieving the justice and righteousness dreamed of by Dr. King.

It is easy to feel overwhelmed by incidents of unjustified and unwarranted police brutality in our country. We need policy change. We need better training for law enforcement. We also need bold thinkers to bring about positive social change.

While safety remains a top priority at Wayne State, artists, designers and historians can use their research to help make our cities, our communities, and our campus safe and inclusive places where EVERYONE has the freedom to speak out, move freely, and feel protected.

This moment is a call to action to use our creativity to help make positive change. History shows us that artists are critical to social movements. For example, in 1932, Mexican artist Diego Rivera painted the monumental Detroit Industry Murals at the Detroit Institute of Arts. This was during the Great Depression and Rivera arrived just after an infamous Hunger March had taken place in Detroit. Thousands of unemployed workers walked together from downtown to the Ford Motor Company's River Rouge plant to demand employment. It is believed that Rivera was inspired by these protests and the rights of workers. The artwork drew sharp criticism at the time but today the murals are one of the jewels of the city and continue to draw visitors to the DIA each year.

Equity and inclusion are pillars of the Wayne State University community. As students of today you are the guardians of our future. Each of you will play a significant role in creating that future and that can start now. I encourage you and support you in using your talents to help bring about positive change and a more just society. If you have a project idea you'd like feedback on, I'm happy to hear from you and will help in any way possible.

Please be in touch and stay healthy and safe.