This is our time!

George Floyd Memorial

Message from Javaune Adams-Gaston, Ph.D., President​
June 4, 2020 

NSU Community

This is our time!

On my very first day as President of Norfolk State University, one of the finest Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the nation, this declaration was the centerpiece of my commitment and conviction for the campus community. Today, as I apply that same declaration to our nation, I am both conflicted and deeply disheartened. Yet in the midst of my disappointment, I remain convicted and dedicated. This STILL must be our time and not just the time of our beloved Norfolk State University, but the time of the many people we repres​ent. It will not be easy, yet it is essential that we stand and work for justice and equality. There simply is no other way.

We acknowledge the history that has brought us to this place.  We acknowledge the present is full of old behaviors.  We are too often bruised, beaten, and left lifeless on the side of the road.  When we are attacked because of the color of our skin, when dogs are used against us, we are forced to question loudly the true meaning of the words, “all men are created equal.”  We develop a different vision of the world and how the world will treat us. Today, when I state ‘This is our time,’ I share it as a rallying cry for all who stand up for what is just and right. 

Watching our brother George Floyd pinned down with a knee by those who should serve and protect us changes how we see justice.  We walk in cautiousness.  We are concerned that one turn of events can end our lives.  These injustices are inflicted upon us far too often.  I am a 6th generation African-American in a family of at least 8 documented generations of African-Americans. To those who have not had as many years as I have, I say to you that I want you to live in a world where you are not afraid.  I want you to live in a world where you TRULY have equitable experiences.  I want you to live in a world where your brilliance shines and that brilliance is used so that we all prosper and advance not only our communities but our nation and the world.

Norfolk State University will always be a place where you are valued.  We continue our legacy of fighting racism and inequality in America and around the world. The University served as the host institution for Voice of America’s 1619 Commemoration radio broadcast, which reached an international audience of 75 million. NSU was also proud to partner with American Evolution to host Virginia’s 1619: Making of America Summit, which served as a capstone event for the Commonwealth’s year-long commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first African slaves in America.

The Center for African American Public Policy (CAAmPP) ​at NSU is a catalyst for social change that is shaping public policy by providing research on issues affecting African Americans and other peoples of color in Virginia and the world. The Center’s mission is to empower minority communities, educate the public at large, and assist lawmakers by providing alternatives on issues involving African Americans and other communities of color. Acknowledging and systematically addressing the racism that created, protected, and preserved slavery, inequality, murder, injustice, and hatred is critical for the nation’s future.  CAAmPP will play a critical role in guiding the nation in addressing 400 years of legal, political, economic, and social violence against African- Americans and other people of color.

These are but two examples of positive actions at NSU that support the agenda of dismantling racism.

This fall we will create a standing NSU Committee on Equity, Inclusion and Diversity.  Student, faculty, staff and administrators will be included.  As the 7th President of this institution I will co-lead this committee which will have the charge: to create excellent models of higher education equity, inclusion and diversity for NSU and other institutions of higher education.

I have the honor of spending time and engaging with students as they discover new levels of individual genius and work to see the future in everyone in their community.  To our amazing students I say: You are our world leaders and you are ready. You challenge us to understand the change that must come.  You make that happen each and every day.  YOU ARE NOT to be underestimated. You are our future.  You are our present. AND you are spectacular!  

To our faculty, staff, parents/families, and community members, I say:  We must help them become all that they can become.  Provide the resources so that our students can earn their education and create the changes in the world and in their family trees. Know that they bring next generations into the fold of truly transformational education. Join them!  So that they have more opportunities to give back, and use their light to illuminate the world and show us who they can be--who we can be as a nation.  I implore you, please don’t make little of their demand for change.  For if we do, we fail.

This is our time.

President Javaune Adams-Gaston​