Sullenberger Aviation Museum seeks to provide transformative experiences of learning, telling the important stories of aviation/aerospace, and connecting students to STEM professionals and career opportunities. As we conduct that work, SAM fosters the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion in our efforts to improve the lives of individuals and the health of our community. We take great pride in being the stewards of many important narratives and artifacts that illustrate the history of aviation and its impact across the Carolinas, but we are painfully aware that aviation has not always offered equal opportunities for all people. Long before the Wright Brothers’ first flight at Kitty Hawk, our country has been gripped by a plague of racism and oppression that continues to create social and economic injustice for people of color. We recognize that we must take more steps to accurately represent aviation’s history in the Carolinas—even the painful parts. We are committed to using our platform and resources to elevate the lives of people and foster positive community change.
We believe that black lives matter. We stand with those protesting the inhumanity of racism and social injustice, including the recent killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breona Taylor, and George Floyd. We will not remain silent about the abuses and discriminations suffered by our fellow Americans. Let’s remember the words of civil rights activist James Baldwin: “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” Our role now is to act. We intend to raise up the voices of families, students, schools, and community partners to boldly address social justice, economic dignity, and educational equity.
SAM continues to forge strong partnerships with organizations that directly serve our community’s most vulnerable members, especially those that are economically and socially marginalized. These partnerships provide a vital tool in helping us assess and better understand our community’s greatest needs and ways that our organization can help address them. These partnerships also ensure that all voices are represented in conversations regarding the development of CAM’s future facility and mission. 2020 has proven to be an inflection point for our country and for CAM. Our organization will be forever shaped by the spotlight this year has shone on racism and economic disparity.
As we work to develop a new museum facility in Charlotte, we pledge to create a place that is accessible to everyone, regardless of skin color or social status. Our institution isn’t just about planes—it’s about people. We have a responsibility to ensure that all people are represented and included in the stories we share through our thematic content, exhibits, and programs. It is our goal to present ideas that inspire, engage, educate, and empower the communities we serve to pursue their own dreams.
Nelson Mandela said, “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” While we condemn the episodes of inhumanity that blight our history, Sullenberger Aviation Museum moves forward holding ourselves accountable as an organization to promote kindness, inclusion, compassion, and resilience in all that we do.
Stephen F. Saucier, M. Ed.
President, Sullenberger Aviation Museum