Diversity and Inclusion

A Message from the Junior League of Pittsburgh – May 31, 2020

Dear Junior League of Pittsburgh Members, Friends, Family, and Community Partners,

The events of the past week have once again underscored the severity and violence of racism that our communities experience in the United States and across the world every day.

This has been a tragic week, where we’ve all watched the hurt and anger on display at the death of an unarmed and restrained Black man. And now, we see cities across our country—including our own beloved Pittsburgh—erupt in response to racial injustice. What began as peaceful protests turned into violence and destruction, distracting from the important purpose of the original gatherings.

As members of the Junior League of Pittsburgh, we are and must continue to be leaders in our community. We cannot be silent and must do our part as our community feels the heaviness of grief and fear.

This week has again raised the veil of racial inequities that are pervasive in our cities and in our countries, and seeing racial turmoil unfold in our communities is particularly painful and extremely difficult to witness. We stand with our members, friends, family, and community partners who are experiencing uncertainty, sadness, and fear.

As an organization that believes in building better communities and strives for leadership excellence, many of us feel helpless and have asked what we can do.

We as Junior League women strive to be civic leaders in our communities. As such, we should hold ourselves accountable for our own racism and biases. We must do the work. We must be willing to be humiliated and vulnerable. We must speak out and we must be visible. We have to know when to be quiet and listen. And equally important, when to speak up.

“There comes a time when silence is betrayal.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

Our words must be supported by actions. When we say that the Junior League of Pittsburgh is a place where all are welcomed, valued, and affirmed, that comes with a responsibility to be better allies and advocates. We want to draw your attention to a letter written by Martin Luther King, Jr. while he was imprisoned in the Birmingham Jail in 1963. This letter is a poignant reminder that our words must be followed with actions.

We must give support to our Black members—and all members of color—our neighbors, friends, coworkers, partners…and as an organization, we must be an authentic ally in this fight for justice. We must see these events and face them. We must call them out. We must not ignore these painful parts of our reality. We must acknowledge these injustices and this pain. Our commitment to equity and inclusion is as important as ever.

We challenge each of you to join us in that commitment and spend time considering what we, as the Junior League of Pittsburgh, can do to effectuate change. We promise to continue doing all that we can to challenge and reform systems of inequity within our community. As a starting point, the Junior League of Pittsburgh Board of Directors and Management Team are actively working with the Diversity & Inclusion Committee to compile a list of resources for our members to allow us to begin to educate ourselves as individuals and a League. Together, we will listen, and we will learn how we can improve.

If you would like to talk more about this, or have any specific suggestions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to us at any time.

Sending each of you love and peace during this extremely challenging time.

Sincerely,

Melissa Reed
2019-2020 President

Maribeth Thomas
2020-2021 President

The Junior League of Pittsburgh