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Jessica Daniel Moore '04

THE BO(U)LDER QUESTION: Racial Justice

The May 25 death of George Floyd, a Black man in police custody, set off international protests, community conversations and, perhaps, individual examination of conscience about racial justice in America. We asked members of the DePauw community: Will you share your reflections on George Floyd’s death, the aftermath or any aspect of racial justice?

Jessica Daniel Moore ’04 is the diversity, equity and inclusion officer at the Indianapolis Public Library.

“Mommy, are we Black people?”

Both of my children had asked me this question by the time they reached age 3. I take a deep breath, answer “yes” and pull out our copy of “Shades of Black” by Sandra Pinkney. As toddlers, their understanding of Blackness in this country was already forming. Being Black in America has meant death – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual – for far too many.

My mother’s generation bore witness to the murder of Emmett Till as the tipping point that activated the civil rights movement of the 1960s. The events that followed would lead the country through protests that mobilized the movement: Freedom Rides, the March on Washington, the eventual passage of the Civil Rights Act, Bloody Sunday and subsequently the passage of the Voting Rights Act.

Fast forward more than 50 years and the murder of George Floyd catapulted us into the racial-justice movement of this generation. We’ve watched and participated in protests. Called for change in our institutions. We want police officers held accountable for murdering unarmed Black people. We want policy and legislative changes, but legislation alone is inadequate.

How do we legislate liberation? How does this generation win if my children’s skin is seen as a threat?

Coretta Scott King said: “Struggle is a never-ending process. Freedom is never really won; you earn it and win it in every generation.” We are at a critical tipping point. The future of my children – and yours – depends on our ability to figure this out.

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