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An Astronomy Program for Everyone: Black Lives Matter

 The University of Texas at Austin Astronomy Program condemns all aspects of injustice and racism, especially anti-Black racism, anywhere. At this moment, with brutal murders of Black Americans including Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Ahmaud Arbery at the hands of police and private citizens galvanizing protests across the country, we are once again being confronted with the reality of systemic racism in our society. Complacency is not an option: we are taking a hard, honest look at our profession starting with our own program. We recognize that we are far from where we need to be in fostering an inclusive community for our students, scholars, and faculty, and in building a program whose members are representative of the broader society in which we live. We have not yet succeeded in building a graduate program that works for all students, and we have so far failed to see a single Black student through the successful completion of our PhD program. We recognize that this is unacceptable and that we have to do better going forward.

We as individuals, and we as a group, can change and learn from our mistakes, and we commit to pursuing a better future. We pledge, as leaders of this program, to seek out ways to make our program truly inclusive and equitable, where students from any background are welcomed, supported and empowered to succeed at all levels of astronomy. We are drafting concrete steps for action, where every program member is responsible for achieving this goal. We believe in a vision of the scientific enterprise that is motivated by a respect for human rights, for truth, and for universal justice. We commit to relentlessly pursuing this goal of inclusive astronomy and fighting racial injustice in our field, and we will hold ourselves accountable by frequently sharing our actions and initiatives in this space.


Volker Bromm                                                 Steven L. Finkelstein   
Chair                                                                Associate Chair
Department of Astronomy, UT Austin

Taft E. Armandroff
McDonald Observatory, UT Austin

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