George Perry Floyd, Jr. was murdered one year ago today. As the video went viral and people took to the streets in protest, we spoke his name in sorrow and outrage, yet another on an unthinkably long list of Black lives ended early, in our badly broken and deeply divided society. At the time, his killers had good reason to assume that they would never be held to account. A too-long legacy of injustice counseled a lack of faith in our collective humanity, in our ability to right yet another unspeakable wrong. Even after his killer was charged with murder, we waited on edge, fearing another inconceivable, yet seemingly unavoidable, verdict in favor of racism and division. Today, on the anniversary of George Floyd’s death, we pause to acknowledge the emotional toll this period has taken, especially on our Black colleagues, their families, and communities.
Yet with some relief and hope, we can now speak George Floyd’s name with reverence, lifting it up in a continuing call for change. One of his killers has been rightly convicted of the crime, and others are facing the prospect of true justice – the kind that they were sworn to provide to all of us, but that they willingly denied to George Floyd.
Today, after protests that brought so many, from such diverse communities and backgrounds, into the streets together (despite the pandemic!), day after day and night after night demanding, in unity, respect for Black lives, we can look back and see at least a hint of what progress looks like. Finally, the broader community has added its voice to those of Black Americans who have long challenged us, our institutions, our companies, and our communities not just to speak up and stand up against racism, but to own it and then eradicate it.
The guilty verdicts that ended the trial of one of George Floyd’s killers brought some measure of hope for a more just future. But we have a long way to go. We cannot forget that in the last year, Black men, Black women, and Black children continued to die unnecessary, violent deaths at the hands of their sworn protectors, and that throughout our public and private institutions, Black people continue to experience discrimination, disadvantage, and disrespect.
At this moment, despite (or perhaps because of) the deep divisions we cannot ignore, we see all around us reasons to believe that America has the capacity to change. At A&C, we have taken small but important steps to accomplish that change in our own workplace. In the past year, our new DEI Committee has encouraged and provided opportunities for us to seek greater awareness and engage in conversations with each other that may be difficult and uncomfortable, but necessary. We are working on standing up a pro bono program that will specifically prioritize racial justice along with other work. Small steps, but we continue to look for more ways to join in solidarity against racial injustice. And we appreciate and honor the efforts of our many clients who are drivers of change in neighborhoods, prisons, churches, schools, and the broader community.
We look forward to continuing this work, both internally and outside, in honor of the memory and legacy of George Floyd and so many others. Say his name: George Floyd.