One step in a long journey

Many of us listened live yesterday as jurors rendered their verdict on the charges against Derek Chauvin, who was on trial for the killing of George Floyd last May. As I process my own personal reactions to the news, I recognize that the trial and the events leading up to it have provoked a range of emotions and perspectives in our community.

Yesterday’s verdict was an affirmation that Black Lives Matter, yet it was only one step in a very long journey toward equity and social justice for all. This was one decision in one case with one victim, but it delivered a message that went beyond one tragic situation. The message was one of hope; that in America, truth and racial justice are valued, and those who commit such egregious and reprehensible actions will finally be held accountable. The 12 jurors who represent all of us spoke truth to power. That’s what makes yesterday’s rulings a major move forward for this country.

We acknowledge and mark this step, knowing full well that there is a long road ahead of us. Even in the midst of the news following yesterday’s verdict, there was another shooting and loss of life. As painful as that is, it underscores the point that we have many more miles to go.

Let us take this moment to pause, to reflect on the importance of what has happened, to strengthen ourselves for the journey ahead, and to care for each other along the way.

Dr. Benjamin Ola. Akande is President of Champlain College. He is a respected economist, scholar educator and global consultant.