G-d bless George Floyd and his family. May he give us the strength to “remain awake through a great revolution.”

Photo by Lorie Schaull (via Flickr Creative Commons).

Today, less than three miles from our home in Houston, Texas, George Floyd will be remembered by family, friends, and dignitaries at the Fountain of Praise Church.

Early this morning, Manny Fernandez, the New York Times Houston bureau chief, published this biography of Mr. Floyd. I highly recommend it.

I can’t stop thinking this morning about how George Floyd is a Christlike figure. Reading the story of his life, I learned that he had lost his way in his own desert before he decided to devote himself to helping others escape the chains of growing up poor and disenfranchised. Like Christ, he became a true martyr for social change when he was killed by those police officers. And his name, like that of Jesus, is today spoken by people across the world as a synecdoche for failed justice.

In June, 1965, Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered a commencement speech at Oberlin College in Ohio. The title was “Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution.” Dr. King’s words resonate as deeply today as they did on a June day 55 years ago:

    Let nobody give you the impression that the problem of racial injustice will work itself out. Let nobody give you the impression that only time will solve the problem. That is a myth, and it is a myth because time is neutral. It can be used either constructively or destructively. And I’m absolutely convinced that the people of ill will in our nation — the extreme rightists — the forces committed to negative ends — have used time much more effectively than the people of good will. It may well be that we will have to repent in this generation, not merely for the vitriolic works and violent actions of the bad people who bomb a church in Birmingham, Alabama, or shoot down a civil rights worker in Selma, but for the appalling silence and indifference of the good people who sit around and say, “Wait on time.” Somewhere we must come to see that human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and the persistent work of dedicated individuals. Without this hard work, time becomes an ally of the primitive forces of social stagnation. So we must help time and realize that the time is always right to do right.

G-d bless George Floyd and his family. May G-d give us the strength to “stay awake.”

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