Violent racism: Can Floyd protests break an old cycle? (video)

It was an act of violence so visceral that when the public saw what had been done, the outrage came in a wave.

We’re referring, of course, to George Floyd dying under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer in May. The bystander video that captured his death has triggered some of the biggest racial justice protests in recent years.

But we could be talking about the beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police officers in 1991, which was also caught on tape. The footage, coupled with the acquittal of the officers involved, led to rioting across LA in 1992. Or we could be citing the lynching of Emmett Till, a Chicago teenager who was brutally beaten to death in Mississippi in 1955 for allegedly whistling at a white woman (an accusation that was eventually recanted). The photo of his disfigured face was one of the sparks that ignited the civil rights movement. 

Why We Wrote This

The death of George Floyd at the hands of law enforcement has launched a wave of calls against police brutality and forced the United States to again confront its history of racism. But violence against Black communities has fueled racial justice protests – and calls for change – for decades. This installment of our video series “Precedented” looks at where those past efforts succeeded, where they fell short, and what it might take to break the cycle.

In this episode of “Precedented,” we look at the cycles of racial violence, protest, and limited progress that marks 20th- and 21st-century America. What lessons should we be learning from this history? And what will it take to keep moving us forward? 

“If history has repeated itself and where we are is very familiar, then maybe ... a new direction is in order,” says Frederick W. Gooding, assistant professor of African American studies at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. “Not necessarily a revolution, but maybe revolutionary thought.” 

You can find other episodes of the series here

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Violent racism: Can Floyd protests break an old cycle? (video)
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today