It’s been more than a year since George Floyd took his last breath. Today, Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who murdered him, received a prison sentence of 22 and a half years.
Like many of you, I was waiting, watching, and listening as a judge handed down Chauvin’s sentence. I was thinking of what the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said about the power of a single act of injustice to inflict a collective punch. Nearly 60 years ago, Dr. King wrote these poignant yet searing words from his cell in a Birmingham jail: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
In May 2020, Floyd’s killing reverberated around the world. And as a country, we continue to grapple with its legacy—and the meaning of justice. On this day, as we take time to process the sentence that has been handed down, we can’t forget what W.E.B. DuBois called America’s dual system of justice—one for white people, those with privilege and power, and another one for people of color, the disadvantaged and those on society’s margins. Writing in 1957, Dr. King’s words from Birmingham were prescient and powerful. As I ponder them today, I’m reminded of how far we have yet to go to realize justice for all. But let us not give up the fight.
With kind regards,
Katrina S. Rogers, PhD, President, Fielding Graduate University