Every weekday evening, our editors guide you through the biggest stories of the day, help you discover new ideas, and surprise you with moments of delight. Subscribe to get this delivered to your inbox.
“People finally see it. White people too,” George Floyd’s younger brother Philonise told the reporter Wesley Lowery. “My brother is going to change the world.”
Lowery, a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist, has chronicled the Movement for Black Lives for the better part of a decade.
Minneapolis, he writes, marked a breaking point, reached after years caught in a “gruesome cycle” of violence—years when black men and women continued to be killed with little to no concessions from American police.
Here are just four takeaways from his expansive piece (I encourage you to read it in full):
Activists have spent years pushing for reform.
“Though they sometimes diverge on tactical questions, the activists who make up the core of the movement desire to create, for the first time in our nation’s history, a reality in which black people aren’t routinely robbed of their livelihoods and lives by armed government agents.”
Many believe this time is different.
“Years into the movement, the potential for true progress may finally be at hand, in no small part because the same cycle of unabated violence that has infuriated black activists is finally, due to the unrelenting stream of video evidence, forcing many white Americans to wake up.”
Those clamoring for Barack Obama in this moment misunderstand the movement’s origins.
“To suggest that Obama could silence the enraged screams of the streets is to fundamentally misunderstand the origins of the protests of recent years: They were, in part, a direct response to the perception among young black activists that his administration had failed to address persistent racial inequalities with adequate urgency.”
Calls for a “new Martin Luther King Jr.” may also be misguided.
“Such suggestions require the absolute confidence that, were King alive today, he would continue to advocate for precisely the same tactics in response to today’s injustices as he did in response to those of the 1950s and ’60s—a conclusion that presumes unknowable things about what a man who has been dead since 1968 would believe today. For all we know, King might by now have become so fed up by this nation’s persistent failure to address the injustices he made it his life’s work to expose that he too would be picking up a rock.”
Read the full piece.
One question, answered: When will it be acceptable to sing together at houses of worship?