June 7, 2020
"How do we see each other as we really are?" asked reporter Craig Melvin on MSNBC’s “America in Crisis.” He stepped out from behind the shield of “impartial reporter” and told what it was like to be a 12-year-old boy watching the beating of Rodney King on TV. “It changed my life” he said. Then Melvin continued to tell what it was like to report on the street and know he might be seeing the scene a different way from his white colleagues. Melvin had reported the story in a precise way for the past ten days and this day he told it as a writer would, from the first person point of view.
As Alabama writers, we must see the world as others see it. We must perform the work of empathy every day of our lives, particularly when we write, teach, and meet our neighbors. This is a core tenant of our organization.
The Alabama Writers’ Forum stands solidly with the Black Community in Alabama and America at this pivotal time. We deplore the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery in recent weeks, and all racial terror killings committed in our country over the past 401 years. We believe in equality and diversity and have tried for 26 years to abide by those tenants, but we know that we have not been 100%, or even 50%, accountable at times in our programming, in our staffing, and in our board composition. But we are moving toward that 100% with a conviction increased by these turbulent, important times in which we live, and cannot look away from police brutality against Black Americans, against women, and against the poor.
For several months the Alabama Writers’ Forum staff have worked to survive in the pandemic, seeking funds, encouraging our members and especially our young writers. Our teaching writers have sent packets to the students at the Alabama Department of Youth Services, with which we work year round. But now there is a further imperative if and when we survive this pandemic. To serve a greater good in America—to work diligently for the absolute inclusion of Black writers, teachers, and students in all that we do. And inclusion of all others who are marginalized. We are determined to champion Black voices in the writing world. For this effort, we take solace from the fact that the Equal Justice Initiative, located a few blocks from our office in Montgomery, is a monument for the world that says, “Do not look away; leave here changed.”
We appreciate your support and your faith in the possibility of our vision. We stand for and with all Black individuals and communities. We hope that you stand with us.
Julie Hall Friedman
President of the Board of Directors