Honoring the legacy of BSU alumnus 1st Lt. Richard W. Collins III, the new BSU-UMD Social Justice Alliance will create opportunities to deepen learning and engage in direct action on social justice issues.
BOWIE, Md., & COLLEGE PARK, Md.-- Bowie State University (BSU), the oldest historically Black university in Maryland, and the University of Maryland (UMD), the state’s flagship university, have launched an unprecedented alliance to promote social justice and to honor the legacy of BSU alumnus 1st Lt. Richard W. Collins III, who was killed on the UMD campus by a white UMD student on May 20, 2017.
The launch of the BSU-UMD Social Justice Alliance on Oct. 1 also marks the day that the 2nd Lt. Richard Collins III Law goes into effect in Maryland. Collins was recently posthumously promoted to a first lieutenant by the U.S. Army.
BSU President Aminta H. Breaux and UMD President Darryll J. Pines, along with the Collins family and Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy, came together on Oct. 1 for a virtual launch event to introduce the alliance and celebrate the new law, stating that hate does not have to be the sole motivation for a hate crime.
Both presidents have committed the collective efforts of their universities’ faculty, staff and students to the alliance, which will create opportunities to deepen learning and engage in direct action on social justice issues.
“More than ever this newly formed alliance is needed to address critical issues facing our society,” said Breaux. “The economic, social and racial divide is increasingly pulling our communities apart and challenging our country. Today, we take another big step forward to create a more just future in honor of 1st Lt. Collins.”
Pines agrees that the alliance will provide a platform to create meaningful impact among the campus communities.
“At the University of Maryland, we honor and remember 1st Lt. Collins. He is a part of who we are,” said Pines. "Through our newly formed Alliance with our Bowie State colleagues and the establishment of the Lt. Richard Collins III Endowed Scholarship, we reaffirm our commitment to his legacy of service and social justice."
Richard and Dawn Collins, the parents of 1st Lt. Collins, joined both universities to introduce the Alliance that honors their son’s legacy.
“It is our vision that this will be the beginning of an effort that will be replicated to address social
justice issues and what it means to be a citizen in this nation,” said the couple.
As part of this new Social Justice Alliance, each campus has created a collaborative team composed of top faculty with research expertise in social justice, restorative practice and related areas. Alliance coordinators Kimetta Hairston, BSU associate professor, and Georgina Dodge, UMD vice president for diversity and inclusion, will lead the teams on their campuses to integrate social justice principles, concepts and strategies into interdisciplinary and cross-university learning opportunities; and work with student-led organizations to break down barriers and build trust and respect.
“Partnering with Bowie State University to battle societal justice is the right fight, and one in which we must all participate,” said Dodge. “Tackling social justice affects everyone, and through our work we want to have a positive impact on our campuses, as well as our region and beyond.”
BSU will spearhead the development of a model that allows communities on both campuses to dialogue together and to address critically important topics, including race, hate, bias in society, social justice, economic inequality, white nationalism and other similar issues.
The alliance is devoted to leading the charge in eradicating the ideology of intolerance,” said Hairston. “We are committed to empowering individuals towards social justice and equality for all.”
Other joint actions of the Social Justice Alliance will include hosting seminars each semester and collaborating on an annual symposium to facilitate ongoing national conversations on social justice issues.
Bowie State will identify a centralized Social Justice Alliance “safe space" location on its campus where faculty, students and staff can engage in conversations and interactions.
The Social Justice Alliance adds to and builds on collaborations between Bowie State and the University of Maryland following the murder of Collins. In 2018, students and faculty from both universities worked together to create a Unity Mural, a visual representation of peace, unity and justice. The mural was on display at both campuses, fostering community building and healing, before being displayed in the Maryland House Office Building, in Annapolis. The two universities also came together to host a joint dialogue for the first time in 2019, which aimed to develop solutions after the Collins tragedy.
About Bowie State University
Bowie State University (BSU) is an important higher education access portal for qualified persons from diverse academic and socioeconomic backgrounds, seeking a high-quality and affordable public comprehensive university. The university places special emphasis on the science, technology, cybersecurity, teacher education, business, and nursing disciplines within the context of a liberal arts education. For more information about BSU, visit bowiestate.edu.
About the University of Maryland
The University of Maryland, College Park is the state's flagship university and one of the nation's preeminent public research universities. A global leader in research, entrepreneurship and innovation, the university is home to more than 40,000 students,10,000 faculty and staff, and 297 academic programs. As one of the nation’s top producers of Fulbright scholars, its faculty includes two Nobel laureates, three Pulitzer Prize winners and 58 members of the national academies. The institution has a $2.1 billion operating budget and secures more than $1 billion annually in research funding together with the University of Maryland, Baltimore. For more information about the University of Maryland, College Park, visit www.umd.edu.
About the 2nd Lt. Richard W. Collins Foundation
In the early hours of May 20, 2017, two days after his commissioning as a 2nd lieutenant in the United States Army and just before his long-anticipated graduation from Bowie State University, Richard W. Collins III was murdered by a follower of the Alt Reich Nation white supremacist group. His parents established the foundation that bears his name to advocate for social and civic justice for all people. Through scholarship and education, the 2nd Lt. Richard W. Collins III Foundation works to build young leaders through education and civic engagement that embodies Richard’s character seeking to build a better informed and more tolerant America. Visit www.2ndltrwc3.org.