Like millions of others around the world, I was glued to the LIVE stream of two men, Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley – “Bob & Doug”, who courageously blasted off as Crew Dragon in the first launch of American astronauts in a rocket built by a private American company on American soil. I, as many others did I am sure, held my breath and prayed for a successful mission.
It was such a “goosebumps moment” to marvel at the technological advances and power of the Falcon 9 rocket and Endeavour capsule. It also highlighted the unity of a prolific public/private partnership in NASA and SpaceX. America has roared back into the space race.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t the only race-related news of the weekend.
The unjust death of George Floyd permeated the pages of social media. The 46-year old African American who was alleged to have tried to buy a pack of cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill. He was unarmed. Video surveillance appeared to show he complied with the responding officers, but minutes later Mr. Floyd was under the submission of 4 Minneapolis police officers, including white Officer Derek Chauvin, who pinned the suspect to the ground with his knee against his neck. Gasping for air, George Floyd then cries out what has become the battle cry of protesters across the nation, “I can’t breathe!”, and loses consciousness and later dies. As I watched the disturbing video conclude, again I found myself holding my breath and praying. I prayed for the family of George Floyd. I continue to pray that peace will prevail across our country and that injustice is defeated.
While I was attending Chico State, I met Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, an African American-Canadian boxer who was falsely imprisoned for nearly 20 years, accused of murder. He fought injustice and was released and cleared of any wrongdoing. I was inspired by his compelling story, filled with wisdom and forgiveness. My favorite line in the 1999 film “Hurricane”, starring Denzel Washington as Carter is “Hate put me in prison. Love’s gonna bust me out.” We need more love now.
In 1962, President John F. Kennedy famously proclaimed during his “Rice Stadium Moon Speech”, “For the eyes of the world now look into space, to the moon and to the planets beyond, and we have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace. We have vowed that we shall not see space filled with weapons of mass destruction, but with instruments of knowledge and understanding.”
Among the stars and in the streets across the country, this still rings true today. May knowledge and understanding come from open minds and peaceful protest, and freedom and peace echo within our community and nation. Let’s show the content of our character in Redding, Shasta County, and the UNITED States of America.