Red, White and Black

By Derrick Johnson, NAACP President and CEOvvvv
By Derrick Johnson, NAACP President and CEO

by Derrick Johnson

An astonishing amount has happened in the weeks since the slow-motion execution of George Floyd.

In every state and around the world, people of all colors, genders, and ages have joined together to march in fury and in hope, to renounce the past and redeem the future.

Since then, the chokehold that killed George Floyd has been banned in 20 cities and counting. Confederate monuments have toppled or (finally) removed by officials. Around the country, communities are pushing police out of schools, and considering how to slash law enforcement budgets and reinvest the funds to address the root problems that police are so ill-equipped to handle.

But too much has also stayed the same.

Since George Floyd’s murder, police have killed Black men in Georgia and California. Around the country, six Black people have been found hanging from trees, supposed suicides that chillingly resemble lynchings and have sparked demands for investigations. And as of now, no charges have been filed against the Louisville police officers who broke into Breonna Taylor’s home and shot her dead as she slept.

The hard truth is that America still has not extended the ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to the Black community. And even centuries after our very own ancestors built this country from the ground up, the consequences of chattel slavery are still painfully reflected in the system of racism that is so thoroughly embedded in our nation’s social, economic, and political systems.

The good news is that the recent protests are evidence that true freedom is within our grasp. We have a chance now to escalate the energy of this moment and move from protest to power to policy change—as long as those of us who care about civil rights and social justice keep up the fight.

So on this Fourth of July, I’m calling on all of us to not let this moment slip through our hands. Let’s all pledge to continue doing the hard, necessary work of pushing toward a better and more just future for our families and our country.

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