Statement by Dean Geneva Henry on the Events of 1/6/21

The events that happened in our city yesterday were horrific. GW Libraries and Academic Innovation is devoted to helping our community verify facts, find truth, and become an informed citizenry. The chaos and unlawfulness we witnessed yesterday was rooted in pervasive misinformation and a historic legacy of structural inequality. We witnessed the culmination of lies and disinformation that have been perpetuated over many years, resulting in behavior we have not seen in our nation’s capital in our lifetime. 

In our role as educators of information literacy, we must pledge to redouble our efforts to help the GW community to identify, evaluate, and use information to combat the spread of false theories and conjecture that undermine the legitimacy of our governing infrastructure. There has never been a more crucial time for us to pursue this vital work. 

Of equal importance, we must denounce the racist behavior witnessed yesterday and continue to combat it whenever it appears. We are committed to becoming a truly antiracist organization and will do our best to combat the racist beliefs fueling yesterday’s riots. We can not stand silently when members of our community are frightened by racist threats invading their own neighborhoods. Respect is one of our very core values, working hand-in-hand with truth, to make sure we form a civilized and responsible citizenry. It is this embrace of truth and respect that will help to banish fear brought on by racism.

Libraries and educational institutions are powerful forces for change, and I urge everyone to join together to use that power to ensure that yesterday’s shocking, historical insurrection never reoccurs. We can and do make a difference, and I truly believe that what we have to offer -  in terms of information and data literacy, an understanding of our history and constitution, and respect for diversity -  is what our country and community needs to start to heal.