Wake up America is the title of an essay I wrote in 1969. Yes, that is the title. No, I do not have a hard paper copy, for it would have more than likely yellowed out by now if it was not archived in an acid-free box or imported to microfilm or upgraded to a digital file. Nevertheless, the title remains with me just as the need remains in America, and the demand is still before us. You see, it appears that the message was not clear enough so that our nation’s leaders and those striving to be placed in positions of power had neither the connection nor the understanding of the need for an awoken country. Many just settled into cushy jobs where doors were opened by others, and those who did not work to open the door did not pay it forward. Yes, they walked in and took the check, not understanding that the checks they cashed rein void for they were counterfeit. Hence, our community has been underserved for 401 years.
Is it not interesting that it was an alleged counterfeit $20 bill that was allegedly being passed by Houston resident George Perry Floyd, who was working in Minneapolis, MN that ignited protests around the world? This alleged transaction resulted in Floyd’s death when a Minneapolis policeman placed his knee on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds on May 26, 2020. Floyd’s murder has given rise to the 2020 uprising to awaken not only America but the World. Are we listening, America? We are reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic, which revealed the ocean-sized gaps in health care disparities and health risks. Then comes George Perry Floyd’s murder-adding pain on top of pain. Before enslavement of Africans in America and the 401 years blacks have resided in the United States, Black lives matter.
Floyd’s murder has awakened deep-sleeping, disconnected Americans as did Emmett Till’s death in 1955, where the teenager was murdered in Money, Mississippi, for allegedly whistling at a white woman. Till’s parents arranged an opened coffin funeral for their son so that the world could see the hate and racism their son experienced. In the Floyd case, a teenage girl in Minneapolis stood with courage, and videotaped Floyd’s murder and shared it with the world. She stood and tapped the police officer’s knee on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, thereby pulling back the curtain on unjust policing of African American men and women.
It was an awakening brutal act or racism, and the nation is hurting, so what do we do now? Floyd, a man from humble beginnings, can change the world. He had no rank or title. But God had done some things through this tragedy, and he has motivated many in this worldwide movement to call, “No Justice, No Peace.” This 2020 uprising brings forth a demand for better government and policing. Not everyone will bend toward change with Floyd’s death, but Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. tells us “The moral arc of the universe is long but it bends toward justice, and Floyd’s daughter tells us, “My dad will change the world.” He will, if only we listen and act with new laws and our hearts.
In this issue, the Houston Sun has sought partners to speak on a series of accountability topics that should awaken America. They have been written by youth, citizens, scholars, pastors, and professionals on the issues of the day. I hope that you appreciate and respect the work of each contributor.
May God bless, and I will see you next week.
Dorris Ellis, Publisher