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Meeting this Moment: Reflections One-Year Later

Photo credit: Dan Mall | Black Lives Matter Plaza, Washington, D.C., USA

As the world marked the anniversary of George Floyd’s death on Tuesday, May 25, many of us reflected on ideas of justice—specifically, whether justice could truly be meted out when his life was stolen. In the year since Mr. Floyd was murdered by a police officer, his family has actively worked through their grief to keep his memory alive while also partnering with legislators, organizations, and communities to transform policing in the U.S. Simultaneously, during a time deemed “the summer of racial reckoning,” millions rose up in anguish and mobilized for justice, while other citizens around the world got engaged and educated. While necessary, cycles of protests over systemic racism, structural oppression, and police brutality are not new. And though it can feel painful to reckon with horrors of the past and the present, it is necessary to continue these conversations to shape how we understand our histories and help us shape new legacies.

During this last year of reckoning, communities of color around the world continued to experience forms of systemic violence. Over the course of the trial of the police officer who murdered Mr. Floyd, at least 64 people were killed at the hands of American law enforcement with Black and Latino people representing more than half of those killed. Similarly, oppressive conditions and state-sanctioned violence continue to escalate in regions around the world from Colombia to Palestine, Myanmar, and Kashmir.

This time one year ago, Echoing Green shared our commitment to ensuring that this moment of awareness turns into sustained action for advancing racial equity. It’s why we launched our Racial Equity Philanthropic Fund last summer. It’s also why we refined our Fellowship to fund proximate leaders accelerating racial justice around the world.

The question is not what room can we create for racial justice approaches in the social innovation field?—the real question is, what is social innovation without racial justice?

By changing systems, challenging beliefs, and questioning existing power structures, racial equity work is not just a lens by which to view social innovation—it is inseparable from innovation itself.

How Do We Move Forward?

Leaders like our Fellows understand that the world doesn’t have to look like what we know. They see possibility in the face of the most existential challenges of our day and drive justice forward with their communities by their side. To under-resource these proximate innovators is to deprive the world of the full extent of their visionary leadership. Nearly one year ago, we offered five strategies as we move forward together:

  1. Invest now and significantly in Black leaders and Black-led organizations, particularly those who are proximate to the communities they serve.
  2. Change the way you support Black-led organizations including your approach to capacity building.
  3. Support the collective mourning and healing justice work that are required to get us through this moment.
  4. Help create mechanisms for racial equity organizations to support one another, share resources, and build power.
  5. Help create mechanisms for racial equity organizations to support one another, share resources, and build power.

To be sure, philanthropic financial commitments to Black-led racial justice work have increased. However, these commitments have largely not been mirrored on a systemic level with inequitable systems fighting back against progress. Cities have begun to walk back their plans to defund police departments and restrictions on Black voting rights continue to mount. The enduring assaults on our collective liberation requires urgent action and staying on course toward the visionary work of building a more just, equitable, and sustainable world. This movement’s calls for justice have always been about a dedication to racial equity for the long-haul.

In a series of blog posts over the course of the summer, we will reflect on these five strategies: what has changed, what remains the same, and what we need to remember now more than ever as the work continues. There is no doubt that we still have an opportunity for transformational change. Exemplified by the rise of mutual aid and coalitions during this past year, we have witnessed what is possible when collective vision, collaborative action, and catalytic thinking are at the very heart of social change efforts.

About this series

One year ago, we called on those who care about progress and positive social change to implement five strategies as we move forward together. In a series of blog posts over the course of the summer, we will reflect on these five strategies; what has changed, what remains the same, and what we need to remember now more than ever as the work continues.

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