Will the death of Ge­orge Floyd be the birth of racial rec­on­cil­i­a­tion?

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - OPINIONS - BY BOB MCDONNELL AND DELORES MC­QUINN Bob McDonnell was the 71st gov­er­nor of Vir­ginia and is pres­i­dent of Vir­gini­ans for Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion. Con­tact him at: Bob@mc­don­nell­grou­pllc.com Delores Mc­Quinn rep­re­sents the 70th District in the Vir­ginia House of Del­ega

We are blessed by God to live in a pros­per­ous na­tion. Yet we re­main on the jour­ney the United States Con­sti­tu­tion en­vi­sions of form­ing “a more per­fect Union.”

Thomas Jef­fer­son’s cor­rect as­ser­tion in the Dec­la­ra­tion of In­de­pen­dence that all of us are ”cre­ated equal and en­dowed by our Cre­ator with cer­tain in­alien­able rights” is not yet a re­al­ity for all Amer­i­cans. The hor­rific mur­der of Ge­orge Floyd tells us we have far to go.

Our hearts are bruised and bro­ken to­day. We sym­pa­thize with the anger, frus­tra­tion and dis­ap­point­ment of our fel­low black cit­i­zens as they ex­pe­ri­ence the rem­nants of slav­ery, the black codes, Jim Crow laws and Mas­sive Re­sis­tance.

This week, the fam­ily of Ge­orge Floyd is lay­ing him to rest. To­day, the heart and soul of the na­tion, al­ready bat­tered by a health and eco­nomic cri­sis, is filled with un­rest, as we again stare the evil sin of racism in the face.

Fel­low Vir­gini­ans, this time our re­ac­tion must be dif­fer­ent and en­dur­ing.

Since 1619, when our po­lit­i­cal an­ces­tor Colo­nial Gov. Ge­orge Yeard­ley au­tho­rized the first Amer­i­can slave trade with the pri­va­teers from the White Lion ship at what’s now Fort Mon­roe, there has been hu­man bondage and dis­crim­i­na­tion against African Amer­i­cans in our coun­try. For those who do not ac­knowl­edge it, they do not un­der­stand his­tory.

We com­mend and strongly sup­port the peace­ful Vir­gini­ans of all races who have taken to the public square to right­fully and strongly con­demn per­sonal and in­sti­tu­tional racism in all its forms. They have ex­er­cised their pre­cious First Amend­ment rights of speech, re­li­gion, re­dress and assem­bly with vigor and pas­sion. It is the essence of a vi­brant democ­racy.

We strongly con­demn vi­o­lent protesters, some from other states, who have as­saulted po­lice of­fi­cers, in­jured in­no­cent cit­i­zens and de­stroyed the prop­erty of oth­ers.

We com­mend and strongly sup­port the over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of good law en­force­ment of­fi­cers of all races, who sac­ri­fice their lives and safety daily to keep more than 8 mil­lion Vir­gini­ans safe. We mourn the 95 law en­force­ment of­fi­cers who have given their lives in the line of duty so far this year in Amer­ica.

We strongly con­demn the evil bru­tal­ity and ex­ces­sive force of those who reck­lessly wield po­lice power, which has led to the in­jury or death of our fel­low black coun­try­man over the cen­turies. This must stop now. No ex­cuses. No de­lays.

We call on churches, syn­a­gogues and faith com­mu­ni­ties to take an un­equiv­o­cal and his­toric stand for a change of heart in Amer­ica. The evil of racism is born out of the evil in the hu­man heart. In Matthew 15, Je­sus said, “The things that come out of the mouth come from the heart and… Out of the heart come evil thoughts, mur­der…” When the heart changes, the cul­ture and the laws will change.

We call on all Vir­gini­ans to elevate their hearts to the moral high ground of the Golden Rule, to “Do unto oth­ers as you would have them do unto you.” Love your neigh­bor! It is the es­sen­tial teach­ing of most of the world’s ma­jor re­li­gions. It is the only long-term cure for the viruses of racism and dis­crim­i­na­tion.

We call on pol­i­cy­mak­ers to re­duce the elec­tion-year rhetoric and in­crease the ac­tion to en­act work­able bi­par­ti­san so­lu­tions. As with the his­toric Civil Rights Act of 1964, now is the mo­ment. We sug­gest:

Rig­or­ously screen and hire only those men and women with the courage and char­ac­ter to han­dle the lofty power of a badge and a gun. Cre­ate a zero-tol­er­ance pol­icy for any law en­force­ment of­fi­cer who uses ex­ces­sive force. No trans­fers. No po­lice jobs.

At last, tell the com­plete his­tory of our black and Na­tive Amer­i­can coun­try­men in our school text­books. Ig­no­rance con­trib­utes to dis­crim­i­na­tion.

Cre­ate true equal­ity in the qual­ity of all Vir­ginia public schools. The Vir­ginia Con­sti­tu­tion guar­an­tees black, brown and white kids the same free equal “high qual­ity” public ed­u­ca­tion. It is the civil rights is­sue of our time.

Vir­gini­ans must take time this day to deeply look into our hearts and root out our own bias and prej­u­dice, and be­come part of the so­lu­tion and not the prob­lem. Black and white Vir­gini­ans, get out of your com­fort zone and build new re­la­tion­ships from the pul­pit to the playground. White Vir­gini­ans, go to a black church and in­vite a black friend to your church. Pas­tors, ex­change pul­pits to preach.

Walk the Richmond Slave

Trail to Lump­kin’s Jail site and feel the pain of slave trade his­tory. Read Richard Roth­stein’s “The Color of Law” and think deeply. Spend 8 min­utes and 42 sec­onds on your knees re­mem­ber­ing how Ge­orge Floyd died, and earnestly pray for heal­ing for our state and na­tion.

DANIEL SANGJIB MIN/TIMES-DIS­PATCH

Peo­ple of all ages chanted dur­ing a peace­ful protest on Broad Street Sun­day.

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