The year 2020 is yet to come to an end but has thus far brought an unwanted abundance of tears and hurt to so many in the departure of so many monumental icons and loved ones. This year has hit me personally and emotionally in opening up the floodgate of tears by the loss of so many beloved and inspirational African Americans that have had a monumental effect on the world and myself. While there have been a multitude of those in my personal circle I have lost, there are three individuals of national acclaim that have touched us all: George Floyd, John Lewis, and Chadwick Boseman. Their lives are a testimony to establishing a humanitarian purpose they were born to manifest—indeed, a legacy.
Who couldn’t keep from weeping as you watched a policeman with his knee on George Floyd’s neck drain him of his life force as Floyd begged for his life for eight plus minutes? I’m sure other African Americans, especially Black men who have experienced similar abuse from law enforcement officers felt an affinity to what Floyd was experiencing. We prayed for a better outcome, but to no avail. His suffering and cries for mercy mirrored many African Americans experiences with the law, and his slow murder was an assault to our humanity that has been occurring undeterred for centuries. Black mothers, fathers, grandparents, uncles, aunts, godparents and friends saw in him their loved ones being tortured and denied their humanity. Pain, hurt, and indignation resonated.
When Floyd died, it felt like part of me had died, and I was left with an unwavering quest for justice calling for police brutality to stop. Seeing George Floyd’s death was the straw that broke the camel’s back. It was the catalyst that provoked national and international protests to bring about attention to such police brutality and social injustice disproportionately targeted toward people of color.
While many people didn’t know Floyd until his untimely death, he was destined to play a pivotal role in changing humanity. He is the ‘postal child’ for ‘Black Lives Matter’ and continues to act as a symbol to bring about needed social change in the world.
The nation was brought to tears also with the passing of Congressman John Lewis, a monumental icon in the Civil Rights Movement. He was the epitome of what young people would call an OG (‘original gangster’) in bringing about social change in his unrelenting efforts and service in combating injustices with his quest to bring about civil liberties for all Americans. In fact, he dedicated and spent his whole life as a soldier and warrior in the fight for equality for all Americans. He rallied with the vanguard of harbingers of justice like Martin Luther King, Jr.; Ralph Abernathy; Andy Young; Jesse Jackson; Medgar Evers; James Lawson; C.T. Vivian; Joseph Lowery; Percy Julian; Paul Robeson; and Harry Belafonte to name a few.
My tears were of deference and profound respect for John Lewis, an unfaltering soul who dedicated his life to the betterment of humanity—to the very end. He was not discouraged by the physical and verbal abuse he encountered numerous times in his fight for dignity and justice for Americans, especially African Americans. While he lived to be 80, his death was still too soon. I cried because of the monumental void that will be present with his departure and the loss of one of our most beloved Civil Rights warriors on whose shoulders we stand.
The most shocking source of my tears probably came from the untimely death of Chadwick Boseman. I am still struggling with his early death from colon cancer leaving an indelible hole in my heart because of the profound impact he had in the world with his short time on earth. He was an amazing young African American man, manifesting all that is good and positive in people of color. In life, he was kind, humble and intelligent. He had a sincere desire to promote humanity, which was characterized by his actions and how he lived.
As the super hero ‘The Black Panther,’ Chadwick showcased the power, greatness, intellect and cultural beauty of Black people throughout the world. He literally changed the perception of how Blacks are viewed by others, not only in this country but the world. Every project he participated in only served to honor Blacks in a positive light. He was the personification of possibilities and hope for many people, especially young Black children. He propelled them to follow their dreams and live a life of purpose. He made us so proud and was a role model for a younger Black generation hungry for someone that looked like themselves.
Perhaps the source of most of my tears was for Chadwick, who was taken so prematurely and had so much more to offer the world—although he did more than most with the time he was allotted while here on earth. Maybe my tears were selfish, but I felt as if I had lost a child. But I find some solace in knowing that he left an example for all us to follow—to find purpose in serving humanity.
While death is inevitable, we can be inspired and motivated to follow the example of those who have left the world much better. Maybe these tears of sadness and deference I’ve shed for these men and so many others this year can be changed to those of joy and appreciation for lives well lived.
We can only aspire to make as big a difference as they did. Then our lives will not have been in vain. Serving others is the essence of life and a valued necessity in making this a better world.