a mural memorial to George Floyd with flowers piled in front

9 minutes and 29 seconds


Written by Bethany Criss, CERO

9 minutes and 29 seconds

Remembering George Floyd

9 minutes and 29 seconds. This time marker will forever be etched into the heart of our nation. On May 25, 2020, as a nation under quarantine we rallied around calls for “togetherness.” And together, those 9 minutes and 29 seconds opened our eyes to the realities of racial injustice. The sharp injustice of a Black father’s stolen last breath finally woke our national consciousness. 

I have written and rewritten this message through tears, asking myself how best to mark the importance of this tragic anniversary in the decades-long struggle for equality. Most of my professional career has centered on the pursuit of racial equity and justice. On almost a daily basis for the last 15 years, I have locked arms with colleagues fighting to advance anti-racist policies, practices, and perceptions. And through our tears and pain we continued to advance calls for a fair and just society.

But May 25, 2020 marked a turning point. With the majority of America quarantined at home, there was a steady and unobstructed audience to the realities of systemic racism in broad daylight—the realities my colleagues and communities confronted every day. 

Six-year-old Gianna Floyd spoke her truth: “Daddy changed the world.”

For the first time in decades, we must openly grapple with the concepts of equity, justice, and race. We see this play out from Congress to classrooms, and everywhere between. And in the middle are those who are charged with holding the frontlines of the future—teachers. 

I believe in advancing systemic change, and joined Leading Educators because I believe in our charge to disrupt and erase racial inequity in education. Put simply, I believe the solution is teachers. Teachers can bring students closer to the future they envision. When we reimagine the ways our education system can build on the brilliance of teachers—not replace it—we can build an equitable future. We will help teachers live out their commitments to anti-racism. We will build a better future.

We must make every second of those 9 minutes and 29 seconds matter. Say his name: George Floyd. Black lives matter. Today, yesterday, always.

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