One Black life mattered, this time

Remember when three Black women proclaimed that Black Lives Matter? It was in 2013 after a jury found George Zimmerman not guilty in the fatal shooting of unarmed Black teen Trayvon Martin in Florida. It seemed so essential and overdue for Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi to found a movement to defiantly claim what America had too often denied.

Yet it was controversial. The willfully blind countered with “All Lives Matter,” as though saying that would make it so. Then, there were suggestions: “Don’t you think it would be less divisive if the signs read ‘Black Lives Matter, Too?’”

In all honesty, anyone who did not get it was not going to with the addition of one three-letter word. But then the world witnessed Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin press his knee on the neck of George Floyd for nine minutes and 29 seconds. That the doubters needed video evidence was infuriating, when Black and brown Americans had been bearing witness for hundreds of years. But communities craving visibility and justice welcomed the opened eyes and protests by all ages and races.

It was certainly never a sure thing that Chauvin would be found guilty on all murder and manslaughter charges, as he was. There was also video of the killings of Philando Castile in Minnesota in 2016 and Walter Scott in North Charleston, S.C., in 2015. Yet in Castile’s case, police officer Jeronimo Yanez was found not guilty. And in Scott’s case, after the first prosecution ended in a hung jury, it took a federal prosecution to gain a plea from former police officer Michael Slager — despite the evidence a brave citizen recorded of Slager shooting Scott in the back, taking aim while standing 15 to 20 feet away, and then throwing his Taser down to concoct a false story for his department to swallow and regurgitate as truth. (Another bit of mild relief this week as Slager’s 20-year sentence was upheld.)

No wonder so many were holding our collective breath.

Unique circumstances

Has a pandemic changed America or revealed its heart?

On the same day, it was two very different scenes from Michigan.

The Detroit funeral last week of 5-year-old Skylar Madison Herbert, the young victim of COVID-19, received some notice, though in days that followed, other victims rapidly filled the screen and news pages. Yet it was impossible to forget young Skylar’s beautiful face, soulful eyes and enchanting smile. Thinking that she would never again get to dress up in the Disney princess dresses and her mom’s high heels that family members said she favored, or grow up to fulfill her dream of becoming a pediatric dentist — well, how could your heart not ache?

All that joy, all that potential stopped by a virus.

Why Obama’s Vision of ‘One American Family’ Matters

President Obama rose to the occasion. In a Dallas speech that started with a joke about the first lady’s love of Stevie Wonder and quickly grew solemn, the president included everyone, and asked something of everyone, as well. He acknowledged his own humanity and imperfections and asked those on all sides to do the same.

And he reminded those listening, at least those with the “new heart” and “new spirit” the Lord promised Ezekiel, that he is a leader who cherishes the promise of America. For someone whose faith has been questioned, the president always reaches deep into Scripture for comforting messages.

 

Even Hillary May Not Find Bill Clinton So Charming Anymore

When President Bill Clinton was winning two elections and presiding over economic boom times, his “Slick Willie” nickname highlighted a penchant for wanting to play all sides to stay on top. He was praised for feeling the pain of Americans and rode into a post presidency on a wave of high approval ratings, but the flaws are evident in his latest forays into his wife’s unexpectedly tough presidential primary campaign.

Though Bill Clinton’s telling off protesters in Philadelphia holding signs and interrupting his speech to remind him of the consequences of his 1994 crime bill may actually help his wife win some voters who believe the demonstrators deserve what he dished out, the image of the red-faced former president wagging a finger and dressing down young activists is not a good look. And his “I almost want to apologize” backtracking was condescending and too cute by half.