A Message from Berklee Leadership: Addressing Racism

Dear members of the Berklee community,

Berklee College of Music and Boston Conservatory at Berklee stand united to create a more just society in which people will not face dehumanization because of their race. Both the Conservatory and the College were founded on principles of equality in the performing arts—at its founding in 1867, the Conservatory was the first school of its kind to admit African Americans, and the College opened in 1945 as the only music school rooted in jazz and popular music of the African cultural diaspora. Given our values, we have an institutional imperative with respect to racial justice. Black lives matter.

We are repulsed by the brutal killing of George Floyd and other recent events like the shootings of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. Yet we recognize that, sadly, these incidents are not new or unique and are, in fact, part of a long, painful history in the United States. We are committed to engaging in these issues at the national, state, and local levels, as well as within the College and Conservatory, and encourage our community members to join us. It is important to acknowledge that we have a great deal of work to do right here at home to effect meaningful change, and to foster justice and healing. 

We pledge to accelerate our various efforts to create a healthier and more just environment at Berklee College of Music and Boston Conservatory at Berklee. We invite all of our faculty, staff, students, and alumni to join with us to recommit to our core values, to ensure that everyone within our community is treated with dignity and respect, and to do the hard work of dismantling the racism ingrained within our larger society and on our campuses.    

Music, dance, and theater have often served as the means to reveal our shared humanity and to call out injustice. Our community can be the agents of change far and wide. But we must first heed the ancient dictum “physician, heal thyself.” We have critical work to do and we will channel our outrage into action, first within, and then, outwardly through the energy and passion of the students we educate and through the art we collectively create.


Roger H. Brown
President, Berklee

Lawrence J. Simpson
Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs/Provost, Berklee

Cathy Young
Senior Vice President/Executive Director 
Boston Conservatory at Berklee