On the one-year anniversary of the death of Michael Brown Jr. at the hands of a Ferguson, Missouri, police officer, it is worth reflecting on how much the Black Lives Matter movement has helped evolve our long and troubled national conversation on race as well as how far we still have to go in order to solve the problems in our criminal justice system and truly enact transformative racial justice.
Brown was one young man amongst countless black men and women that have suffered early deaths from the system of white supremacy manifest in slavery, lynchings, police shootings, mass incarceration and other forms of violence. The abolitionist and civil rights movements did much to change and reform the conditions through which anti-black racism was expressed, but neither erased white supremacy completely, and the Black Lives Matter movement carries on this work today.
Young people are demanding further dismantling of white supremacy in ways that make many folks from generations who experienced the changes wrought by the civil rights movement uncomfortable, but people of any age can choose to stand on the side of justice. Our police forces and criminal justice system still disproportionately harm the lives of black people and other people of color. In memory of these lost lives, let us not only evolve our racial conversation, but our racial reality.