As a collective of research libraries in the academic, public, and national sectors in Canada and the United States, the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is honored to be part of the US Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation (TRHT) Movement. Establishing a Truth Commission in the US, focusing on racial hierarchy and racial harm and its consequences, is an unprecedented opportunity to pay a “long-overdue debt of remembrance” to communities that have experienced racial injustice, and their descendants. Great libraries help students and lifelong learners navigate sources of information, evaluate information for integrity, and provide a platform for exploring the truth. That such inquiry will cause discomfort is precisely the reason to build and protect the capacity of scholars, educational institutions, memory organizations, and communities to document and tell such stories with care.
The US Congress has that opportunity now. Research libraries urge Congress to establish a United States Commission on Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation to “properly acknowledge, memorialize, and be a catalyst for progress toward—(A) jettisoning the belief in a hierarchy of human value; (B) embracing our common humanity; and (C) permanently eliminating persistent racial inequities.” Leaders of the US TRHT Movement don’t just envision a commission report, as important as those documents can be for shaping public policy. They’re calling for an Archive of Racial and Cultural Healing (ARCH), a distributed digital repository of documentation, oral histories, testimony, and artifacts for teaching, learning, and accountability in US history and policy.
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