When I watched the video of bystanders pleading with Police Officer Derek Chauvin to take his knee off of George Floyd’s neck where it was for nine minutes and 29 seconds, I felt what most conscientious Americans felt –outrage and profound grief. And like many Black Americans of my generation, I had flashbacks to growing up in the Jim Crow south when it was not a knee but a rope that took the lives of many Black women, men and children.

I am also reminded that in the midst of our trauma, we can display enormous bravery. The only reason we know about Derek Chauvin is because of the tremendous courage of Darnella Frazier, a teenager who recorded the brutal murder. Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison put his career and reputation on the line to bring Chauvin to justice, supported by a number of law enforcement officials who courageously upheld their commitment to justice by testifying.

I was dragged out of my grief by the sight of millions of people around the world non-violently marching for justice. May we choose to be brave so that we will always do what is right. Passing the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act is the right thing to do.

Johnnetta Betsch Cole, Ph.D.
National Chair and President

The above retrospective appeared in the May 24th special section in USA Today with other influential figures to reflect on the year since George Floyd’s murder.

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