Across Arizona and the country, Americans are expressing their anguish and anger over the death of George Floyd, and the senseless loss of other Black American lives. Understanding history matters more than ever in times like these. It helps us understand and contextualize current events. History can also teach us to be more empathetic. As we learn about the struggles of people in the past, we can better understand the struggles of people today.
As a guardian of our state’s history, we at the Arizona Historical Society know that Arizona’s history is marred by incidents of racial violence. But there are manifestations of resilience and reasons for hope. As historians, we have documented the effects on society of racism, injustice, oppression, and hate over time. Learning the lessons of history is not always easy, but it is always important. Full, open and honest civil discourse will help. We have not always lived up to our mission to serve all Arizonans, but we are striving to do so by being more inclusive and representative of Arizona’s diverse community—now and in the future.