SEO’s Response to Recent Events

A message from our President & CEO, William Goodloe:


Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. These are three recent names on a long list of those killed by senseless acts of violence targeting members of the Black community – a community well represented within our SEO Family. Those recently murdered were a parent, a young adult with future dreams, and a daughter working on the front lines against COVID-19. SEO offers our sincerest condolences to the families of current and past victims.

Like many Americans, we at SEO are outraged by the blatant disregard for the lives of Black Americans by police and others, including those who summon police on Black people engaging in everyday, noncriminal activities. Indeed, threats to the lives of Black Americans are ever-present, with young Black males 21 times more likely to be killed by police than young White males.

The murder of George Floyd is in stark contrast to the case of Peter Manfredonia, a White man, who, this same week, after he was accused of killing two individuals, kidnapping others, and being heavily armed, was taken into custody unharmed. We’ve seen this differential treatment of human life many times before. In Charleston, South Carolina, when Dylan Roof, a White man, murdered nine Black parishioners and was later arrested without a shot being fired or a chokehold applied.

Closer to SEO’s work, the blatant disregard for the value of Black lives is evidenced by an education system that is consigning millions of Black children to a woefully inadequate K-12 public education system. A system that leaves them under-educated and unequipped for fulfilling adult lives, multiplying the probability of (continued) poverty, or even incarceration, as adults.

The SEO Family is filled with grief, while simultaneously ignited by the ever-importance of our mission to close the opportunity gap and propel people of color into positions of leadership and influence – creating a more equitable, just, and democratic society.

As a 61-year-old Black man, it’s heartbreaking for me to watch videos of Black men being senselessly killed in 2020 – driving home the point that SEO’s work is just as valuable today as when we were founded in 1963. We must stand together as a community in fighting systemic racism and injustice everywhere, whether it’s law enforcement, education, health care, or other systems that have historically treated people of color unfairly.

To SEO’s young people and alumni – we are here for you. We vow to continue supporting, preparing, and propelling you. Together, we can make sure that America is truly the land of opportunity for all its citizens.