The protests stood out for a couple reasons. Perhaps most obviously, there were the face masks. Public health guidelines strongly recommend, and in some instances require, people to wear these coverings in certain spaces to help stem the spread of a virus that preys on proximity.
Something else also distinguished these events from others: the protesters themselves.
“Today, I mourn the death of justice. Won’t you mourn with me?” another speaker said.
Black Americans seemed to make up the majority of the attendees, illuminating in heartrending fashion that not even a pandemic could discourage people who felt betrayed by their country — I didn’t need the video; we already knew; mourn with me — from attempting to make it better, anyway.
This black impulse to believe in a country that hasn’t earned such faith recalls James Baldwin’s words: “I know this sounds remote, now, and that I will not live to see anything resembling this hope come to pass. Yet, I know that I have seen it — in fire and blood and anguish, true, but I have seen it,” he writes in his 1985 book, “The Evidence of Things Not Seen.”
They had to, of course. Part of this country’s story is that if black Americans don’t champion their own, no one will.