Written in 1945, the preamble to UNESCO’s constitution states, “since wars begin in the minds of [humans] it is in the minds of [humans] that the defenses of peace must be constructed.” Seventy-five years later this same logic profoundly applies to the tragic events that have recently overtaken the United States. The World Heritage Convention, the guiding light of US/ICOMOS, is based upon the ideas that all peoples and races are equal, that all deserve respect, and that embracing these ideas is essential to the sustainability of humankind. To reject them can only lead to disaster.
US/ICOMOS grieves for George Floyd who died in a horrendous way, and for Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and countless others who have been senselessly and hatefully killed. We convey our heartfelt sympathy to their families and friends, to their communities and also to all those who have suffered injustice because of mindless prejudice. We condemn the racism that continues to be manifest in America and we call for an end to police violence against peaceful protesters calling for justice while exercising their rights under the United States Constitution.
We deplore the words and actions of those who deepen the divisions in our society by instilling anger in the minds and hearts of men and women. Harsh words and actions will not predispose people to work together reasonably and peacefully.
This is an issue steeped in the oppressive history of humans simply seeking the right to be treated equally. US/ICOMOS is committed to advancing this right for all people. This is a time to listen to and lift up those who have not been heard, who often have not been given a voice. We at US/ICOMOS commit to doing the hard work of listening and helping to give voice to those who have been silenced. We stand ready to work with any community, state, or nation to expose the heritage of oppression and how awareness of this can lead us to a more just society, and will seek out guides and partners to that end.
This is the time to construct the defenses of understanding, without which we are at the mercy of the fearmongers who prey upon the basest of human instincts. We have our minds, and we can learn. Clearly, we have the capacity to draw upon what Abraham Lincoln called the better angels of our nature, the emotional capacity to empathize with those who have been abused and the ability to work together for a just society that is necessary to a life of meaning and purpose for us all.
Signed by US/ICOMOS Officers and Trustees
Douglas C. Comer, Ph.D., President
T. Destry Jarvis, Vice President
Ellen Delage, F. US/ICOMOS Treasurer
Kate Montague Perry, Secretary
Jan C. K. Anderson, F. US/ICOMOS
James Reap, F. US/ICOMOS
Board of Trustees
William A. Bell, Sr.
Caroline Sidney Cheong, Ph.D.
Milford Wayne Donaldson, FAIA
R. Grant Gilmore III, Ph.D., RPA
Archer St. Clair Harvey
Peyton Hall, FAIA
Brian Michael Lione
Lea A. Shanley, Ph.D.
John F. Smith III
Sheree Wen, Ph.D.
Cherilynn E. Widell