By Helen Keller Intl | JUNE 2, 2020
We are overwhelmed with grief and concern over the killing of George Floyd—on the heels of the recent killings of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. Racism has no place in America, or our world.
We raise our voices, along with people protesting peacefully all over the United States and many other countries, to call for justice.
Helen Keller, our co-founder, is best known as a symbol of optimism and service to others. But in her own life, through numerous achievements, she was a relentless fighter advocating on the front lines for a lot more than hope. She demanded equality. She stood down the ugliness of discrimination, racism, gender inequality, abuses of civil liberties, and the injustice of poverty in America.
Guided by Helen’s example, we stand in solidarity with those who live with the daily reality of racial injustice.
We condemn the unjust killing of George Floyd and the savage inequalities that disproportionately and systematically victimize black people in America.
We see a world in which, in Helen’s words, “We are not free unless the men who frame and execute the laws represent the interests of the lives of the people and no other interest.” 1
Building that world requires standing up and speaking out.
As Helen said, change requires action and empathy:
“Until the spirit of love for our fellow men, regardless of race, color, or creed, shall fill the world, making real in our own lives and our deeds the actuality of brotherhood—until the great mass of the people shall be filled with the sense of responsibility for each other’s welfare, social justice can never be attained.” 2
Every human being, every child, deserves to live with dignity, safety, and faith that their country affirms and protects their basic human rights.
Every day, and with particular urgency in these times, we recommit ourselves to continuing Helen Keller’s work. At this pivotal time, that commitment is more important than ever. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused disproportionate suffering and death among people of color. In places where needs are great, but access to care is scarce, we remain determined to remove barriers and empower vulnerable families with life-changing health solutions and health equity.
None of us is free – or safe – unless all of us are free and safe. The world we see, the world Helen envisioned, is one in which health, safety, dignity, and justice are not reserved for the few or the privileged.
1 Helen Keller, “Strike Against War: Speech at Carnegie Hall,” New York City, January 5, 1916.
2 Helen Keller, “Onward Comrades,” as quoted in Helen Keller, Public Speaker: Sightless but Seen, Deaf but Heard. Lois Einhorn, Great American Orators Series, Number 23. (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1952), p.33.