In the last several weeks—and the last several months before that—we have seen the kinds of epic changes that are as profound as anything that I’ve seen in my lifetime. Although all of us have been feeling pain, uncertainty, and disruption, some have felt it more than others. Most of all, the families of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery and Tony McDade and Sean Reed and too many others to mention.
Michelle and I—and the nation—grieve with those families. We hold them in our prayers. And we are committed to the fight of creating a more just nation in memory of their sons and daughters.
This evening, I joined our My Brother’s Keeper Alliance in a conversation with local and national leaders to discuss the tragic events of recent weeks, the history of police violence in America, and specific actions we can take to encourage reform of our law enforcement system.
Part of what’s made me hopeful in these days, despite it all, is the fact that so many young people have been galvanized and motivated and mobilized. So much of the progress that we’ve made in our society has been because of young people. Dr. King was a young man when he first got involved. Malcolm X was a young man. Dolores Huerta was a young woman. The leaders of the feminist movement were young people. Leaders of union movements were young people. The movement to make sure that members of the LGBTQ community finally had a voice and were represented were young people. And the leaders of the gun violence and environmental movements in this country are young people.
Today, when I see young people all across the country stepping up and speaking out in such meaningful ways—when I see their talent and sophistication and passion—it makes me feel optimistic. It makes me feel as if this country is going to get better. But real change starts with a focus on results, and everyone committed to doing their part.
We’re calling on everyone—from mayors to city council officials to everyday citizens—to recognize and root out the tragic, painful, maddening effects of systemic racism and to take concrete steps to address police use of force policies in their communities.
It will take all of us working together to ensure we can reimagine policing so it recognizes the humanity of every person—so it honors the dignity of every person.
“My daddy changed the world,” Gianna Floyd, George’s six-year-old daughter, said yesterday.
Yes he did.
Yes we can.