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Optimism for Positive Change after the Death of George Floyd

Colorado Governor Jared Polis

"George Floyd’s life mattered. He was a human being — an American — entitled to the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That’s really what these demonstrations are all about — ensuring that everyone in our great state and nation have those rights.

I want to share something that gives me hope and optimism:

Earlier this week, a video of a different sort went viral. It was a video of George Floyd’s six-year-old daughter Gianna, being carried on the shoulders of one of George’s closest friends.  Smiling, she declares: “Daddy changed the world.”

He certainly did.

5 June 2020

President Barack Obama

"In some ways, as tragic as these past few weeks have been, as difficult and scary and uncertain as they’ve been, they’ve also been an incredible opportunity for people to be awakened to some of these underlying trends. They offer an opportunity for us to all work together to tackle them, to take them on, to change America and make it live up to its highest ideals. Part of what’s made me so hopeful is the fact that so many young people have been galvanized and activated and motivated and mobilized because historically so much of the progress that we’ve made in our society has been because of young people. Dr. King was a young man when he got involved. Cesar Chavez was a young man. Malcolm X was a young man. The leaders of the feminist movement were young people. Leaders of union movements were young people. The leaders of the environmental movement in this country and the movement to make sure that the LGBT community finally had a voice and was represented were young people.

"When sometimes I feel despair, I just see what’s happening with young people all across the country and the talent and the voice and the sophistication that they’re displaying, and it makes me feel optimistic. It makes me feel as if this country is going to get better."

June 2020

Read more on "Optimistic About Youth and Youthful Optimists"

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer
This morning, I took a few moments to read a powerful essay written by our former president, Barack Obama, about how we can make this moment a turning point for real change in our country. We all need optimism. I felt hopeful and inspired in a way that I hadn’t for a while.

California Governor Gavin Newsom

"We need moral leaders now more than ever. Each and every one of us has that capacity. It resides inside of us. It’s our capacity to lead by example, to find our better angels, to focus on the things that unite us, not what divide us, and to reinforce a sense of optimism because we recognize we have to do things differently. And we’re resolved to prove that, not just to assert that, and to hold ourselves to account, because each of us will be judged and judge each other, to the extent we do justice and advance our cause in a different way."

Jim Shelton, chief investment and impact officer at Blue Meridian Partners and former Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education

"We must rebuild a nation that unleashes the potential of every American — enabling us to solve the problems of our communities, the nation, and the world.

"It may sound aspirational, but consider this. We know that solutions exist to help every young person thrive — from before birth to adulthood reaching the milestones that lead to a productive and healthy life. Many face real impediments along the way, but here too, there are proven strategies to prevent them or lessen their effects, which is critical for supporting economic mobility.

"This is why I remain optimistic, even during the most difficult times. Through my work with Blue Meridian Partners, I have the privilege to invest in committed leaders who have solutions to problems once thought intractable. "

Rosa Escareno: Commissioner for the Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection

"I come before you again today with a heavy heart, but also very full of optimism.

"Yesterday, as I visited the neighborhoods and working with the Chambers of Commerce throughout every community, it reminded me again of what Chicago is truly all about. It’s about neighborhoods. It’s about neighborhoods, businesses and residents coming together to make their communities great. And so I spent a day, the majority part of my day in the Chatham area up and down 75th street, along Cottage Grove, as well as along 79th street."

Joyce Ferriabough Bolling

"The world met George Floyd 10 days ago as he lay dying with a police officer’s knee pressed down on his neck. Today, he has become a beacon for change.

"Something feels different this time. Floyd’s death has galvanized the world. It doesn’t feel like the “same old, same old” scenario — a black man killed by police, followed by community outrage and protest, generally ending up with not a lot being done and the police involved exonerated.

"This time I feel more optimistic that Floyd’s killing is motivating the nation and the world toward building a better and more just society. "

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