Twitter-Logo-300x293Facebook_logoinstagram_logo_vector Hopkins House Blog

Hopkins House Calls for Police Reform and End to Systemic Racism

June 18, 2020 08:16 AM


In recent days, all across America, more than 400 cities have seen protests for justice and equality. As described by President Pro-Tempore of the Virginia Senate, Mamie Locke, "the anger and rage we are witnessing across this nation did not start with the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor or Ahmaud Arbery. It did not start with Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, Rekia Boyd or Shelly Frey. It did not even start with Emmit Till or the NAACP hanging out a sign saying 'a man was lynched today.' It started in August 1619 when the 20 and odd negroes set foot on these shores at Fort Monroe, Virginia and the journey toward man’s inhumanity to man began." 

That's four hundred and one years ago. We have moved forward since the darkest days, but not nearly enough. This Friday, on June 19, we celebrate the 155th anniversary of Juneteenth, recognition of the day, 155 years ago, when slaves in Texas were told of their emancipation and, more generally, slavery was abolished under the law in the United States. But ending slavery did not mean equality or, in most practical ways, freedom. Economic and other forms of social bondage persisted, along with racial injustice and violence.

From this dark period, Hopkins House was founded in 1939 to provide childcare to black working families in then racially segregated Alexandria. The organization was named in memory of an African-American physician who helped blacks navigate through a racially segregated health system.

Today, we are seeing protests across the nation related to systemic racism ranging from how people are treated by the police to how systemic issues mean that the coronavirus, known as COVID-19, is disproportionately infecting and affecting communities of color. According to researchers, the intersecting threats of hunger, eviction, and unemployment heightens the prospect of infection among poor and working-class People of Color. Fewer than 20 percent of African-Americans have jobs that allow them to work at home. Low-income people and People of Color are concentrated in lower wage jobs like home health care, retail, and hospitality, where social distancing is virtually impossible. Further, there is the concentration of African-Americans and other People of Color in institutions where social distancing is impossible, including prisons, jails, and homeless shelters.

We can and must do better.

In the City of Alexandria, where Hopkins House was founded, City Council has begun the process of needed change by removing the Appomattox statute and calling for establishment of a Citizen Review Board. These are important first steps, but the City must continue these long overdue reforms by:

  • Making available to the public, clear data on policing in order to assess and improve performance such as on police stops by race;
  • Removing from tax-payer funded public spaces, all symbols of hatred, including changing the name of Alexandria’s only public high school from TC Williams to one that celebrates achievement rather than racism.
  • Ensuring the preservation of safe, healthful, and affordable services families depend on, such as childcare and COVID-19 testing, are available to the most vulnerable residents among us.

We call upon Fairfax County and the Town of Herndon, in which Hopkins House has campuses, as well as all other local jurisdictions in the metropolitan area, to do the same.

As we have for the past 81 years, Hopkins House will continue our long standing commitment to fight for social and economic justice on behalf of the Black community and all families in need by:

  • Speaking out on issues of social and economic injustice, prejudice, and racial violence;
  • Working with local and state elected officials to encourage and support public policies that foster a more just and inclusive society for all residents, without regard to race, national origin, gender, sexual persuasion, age, or religion; and,
  • Partnering with churches, businesses, civic organizations, and supporting groups, including Black Lives Matter, that peacefully work to realize the dream of Martin Luther King, Jr., when “Children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”