A large crowd is protesting around the Robert E. Lee monument in the city of Richmond.

Faculty experts share their insights on nationwide protests

June 10, 2020

University News

As protests continue around the country following the death of George Floyd, UR faculty have stepped up to share their expertise and insight with national and local media outlets.

Historian Julian Hayter, a leadership studies professor and expert on modern African American history and politics, has been a go-to expert for commentary around Richmond’s confederate monuments for several years. In 2018, he discussed the topic on 60 Minutes during an interview with Anderson Cooper. This week, Hayter offered commentary in USA Today, AP, NPR, the Richmond Times-Dispatch, and CBS6 in response to Virginia’s plan to remove Richmond’s Robert E. Lee statue.

“It’s a monumental shift in the re-imagining of public space in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” he told CBS6. “On the one hand, this is a watershed moment, in terms of Confederate statuary and memorialization. But the significance of this moment, I think, is yet to be determined. It's going to depend on what happens with the monuments.”

Political science professors Andrea Simpson and Ernest McGowen also shared their insights with the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

McGowen, spoke to the RTD about the emotional element of protests. As an expert on the intersection of race and political behavior, his latest research explores how the racial divide between the perceptions and experience of whites and African Americans is mediated by emotions.

Simpson, who was a participant in the Sanitation Workers strike as a teenager in the 1960s, has spent her academic career studying environmental justice and effective protest strategy.

“Your message and how you want things to be redressed must be crystal clear to everyone who hears it, and you repeat the message over and over again,” she told the RTD.