Hot Days, Deep History

For African Americans, recent events have been filled with great historic meaning. The one year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd in Minnesota has been a painful memorial for people across the nation. The one hundred year anniversary of the Tulsa Massacre which includes the destruction of Black Wall Street is even more horrific to remember. The annual celebration of Juneteenth, the oldest African American holiday in the country, highlights America’s possibilities and contradictions. These three events symbolize so much about the past, present, and future of African American people in the United States.

In the case of George Floyd, there was a great sense of relief that Officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of his murder. However, there is so much work that remains to be done. Broad based, comprehensive police reform has not yet been achieved. Will the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act be passed by Congress? This bill seeks to ban chokeholds and carotid holds, end the use of no knock warrants, and discontinue qualified immunity which protects police officers from personal liability in questionable, deadly shootings. There is resistance in Washington but we must continue the fight for justice.

The Tulsa Massacre also highlights unanswered claims for justice. During the destruction of Black Wall Street, thirty five square blocks and twelve hundred homes were destroyed. Ten thousand people were made homeless and up to three hundred people were killed. For the first time in our history, bombs were dropped on an American city. Recently, the three remaining survivors of this event testified before the House Judiciary Committee and a lawsuit has been filed on their behalf. Thus far, Oklahoma has refused to provide reparations. Will the survivors and the Tulsa community get some form of justice before they die? Meanwhile, the HR 40 bill awaits a vote in Congress. Can racial justice be achieved without America apologizing for her original sin?

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