The murder of George Floyd is the most recent in a long line of injustices against the black community in our country. While reflecting on what our firm can do to help, I came upon something my friend and colleague Bill Bradley said nearly 30 years ago on the Senate floor. A jury had just returned the Rodney King verdict, which acquitted four police officers who were caught on videotape beating King with their batons 56 times for 81 seconds.
In the 1960s, James Baldwin, in the midst of great racial advances in civil rights, said, "beware the fire next time.’’
In the last twenty-four hours, another warning bell has rung and other fires have burned. If we as a nation continue to ignore the racial reality of our times, tip-toe around it, demagogue it, or flee from it, we’re going to pay an enormous price. What we need now, at this exact time, is hope and accountability. Accountability for the conduct of the police officers, and hope that the system of justice can work.
Please don’t let history repeating itself make you cynical. I am encouraged that the conversations taking place across the country could inspire great change. We clearly need a more just criminal justice system, real economic opportunity for more people, and everyone fulfilling their citizenship responsibility by voting.
Thirty years from now I hope we are able to look back on this time as a real turning point. To get there, we can’t lose hope and we have to hold ourselves accountable.