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An enlightened group of local people began the Memorial Day weekend with a ceremony in honor and remembrance of a Volusia County resident, at his gravesite.

All are invited to join in Volusia Remembers’ events, which will be announced at www.volusiaremembers.org and www.facebook.com/volusiaremembers. You may also contact steering committee co-chairs Sharon Stafford and Grady Ballenger at volusia.remembers@gmail.com.

It was the grave of World War I veteran Lee Snell, who fought for our country in the trenches in France. He returned home and became a successful businessman, and was the victim of a terror lynching in 1939.

The group behind this ceremony, Volusia Remembers, is committed to honoring lynching victims, educating the rest of us, and reconciling us to our hard history of racism.

Before you think nothing like Snell’s lynching could happen today, it just did — in Minneapolis on Memorial Day, when a white policeman put his knee on the neck of George Floyd while two other officers put pressure on Floyd’s back and legs for nine minutes, until he was dead.

This was in broad daylight and in response to Floyd’s alleged nonviolent offense. Witnesses pleaded with the officers to stop, and the victim said repeatedly, “I can’t breathe.”

Isn’t kneeling with your full force on someone’s neck until he stops breathing another form of lynching — just by knee instead of a hanging rope?

Our country has been in turmoil since this happened, with the vast majority of protesters marching peacefully, and a malevolent few agitators, whether white supremacists or others, starting and encouraging violence by property damage — often in communities where minorities have their businesses, and some in privileged areas in New York and Los Angeles.

Mr. Floyd’s murder follows a series of atrocities involving black victims in Georgia, Louisville and other locations. We’ve all read and heard about these people of color being shot by officers or by white men, without real accountability or public outrage.

How is a black woman asleep in her own home, or a black man jogging in a neighborhood near where he lived, a lethal threat that justifies the taking of their lives?

The current outpouring of outrage and marching is a culmination of centuries of our failure to fully reckon with, acknowledge, and attempt in good faith to repair and reconcile the blight of racism in our country.

Slavery, and the legacy of racism — whether by law or practice — that followed slavery’s end, must be dealt with by the white power structure at the local, state and national levels.

We have no national leadership now, so we must look to our governors, our mayors, and our community leaders to start the dialogue.

We have black leaders sparingly in the power structure, who must lead and demand to be heard, and must insist that black leaders in the community participate in the conversation.

And all of us must listen, learn, and effect meaningful change that will bring us closer to equality and justice.

It’s not always easy for us whites to listen to, explore and acknowledge our hard history. But we won’t learn about deep and entrenched injustice unless and until we do.

For those of us who aspire to be Christians, we have to know that this is exactly what Jesus would want us to do.

And if there is anyone who thinks there is no such thing as white privilege, ask yourself and answer honestly, could you endure the everyday challenges of being black?

Being white guarantees us many things, including that we will never be likely to swing from a hanging rope or die from a policeman kneeling on our neck.

— Colvard Dorian is a DeLand resident.


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