The jury that found Derek Chauvin guilty of the murder of George Floyd on all counts made the right decision. But this decision does not bring George Floyd back, nor does it bring back or remove the painful killings of Adam Toledo, Daunte Wright, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and far too many others. Yesterday’s verdict is not an end. It is a beginning. This is only a pivotal moment in history if we commit to collective action to confront, head on, the centuries of violence, trauma, and systemic oppression that white supremacy has inflicted upon Black Americans for generations. Black Lives Matter.
Community colleges, especially our Achieving the Dream Network colleges, have long championed equity and stand in an important place, at an urgent moment, to take action to dismantle barriers to student access and success that exist in their own structures and policies shaped by the effects of structural racism. By not taking action, we fail too many of our students, and we fail to leverage our localness as hubs for equitable and anti-racist communities.
George Floyd’s life, like so many of our students, included sharp edges and setbacks, and was full and complicated. According to a profile in The Washington Post, as a second grader he dreamed of being a Supreme Court justice. A star tight end in high school, George Floyd attended two colleges over three years, including a community college. Similar to many of our students, he also faced swift currents that interrupted the opportunities completing college may have offered him.
As Vice President Kamala Harris said yesterday: “We are all part of George Floyd’s legacy, and our job now is to honor it and honor him.” Achieving the Dream is deeply committed to the work ahead to dismantle the existing systemic barriers to student access and success.