Commentary: Eight minutes and forty-six seconds that will change America and the world

Dr. James B. Ewers Jr.

Commentary: Eight minutes and forty-six seconds that will change America and the world
June 10
13:47 2020

By Dr. James B. Ewers Jr.

Throughout our daily lives, time is important. To some extent, our moving about the countryside is all based on time. We have certain times to be at certain places.

However, on Monday, May 25, time stood still. Three Minneapolis police officers stood still and almost silent as Derek Chauvin, another police officer, had his knee on the neck of George Floyd. It was eight minutes and forty-six seconds, the time it took Derek Chauvin to kill George Floyd.

The death of this black man will be etched in the minds of America and the world forever. The disrespect and gall shown for life by these four men is reprehensible. They will live out the rest of their lives in agony and in shame.

The charge against Chauvin is murder in the 2nd degree. The other three officers have been charged with aiding and abetting in a murder. Already opinions abound about what will happen in the case.

If you look at the video, it is clear what Chauvin was doing. The other three officers according to reports were relatively new to their jobs. How much this will factor in will be one of the questions.

In a memorial given in Minneapolis at North Central University, Reverend Al Sharpton gave a riveting and powerful eulogy. His consistent theme throughout was to get off the necks of African Americans. Our opportunities and basic existence have been hampered and hindered by a part of America. This part of America does not want to see African Americans succeed in any way, shape, form or fashion. 

Sadly, and pathetically, they will never change because their hearts have grown cold and hardened.

Poignantly, at the end of his eulogy, Reverend Sharpton asked everyone in attendance and watching to stand for eight minutes and forty-six seconds. This punctuated the brutality of this senseless killing.

Now, many in all walks of life have been moved to speak up and speak out about the killing of George Floyd. Gregg Popovich, coach of the San Antonio Spurs, said, “For white people to see how nonchalant, how causal, just how everyday-going-about-his job, so much so that he could just put his left hand in his pocket, wriggle his knee around a little to teach this person some sort of lesson and that it was his right and duty to do it in his mind. I think I’m just embarrassed as a white person to know this can happen.”

The marches and demonstrations do not seem to have an end in sight. Back in the day, the marches I participated in were mostly black. Now it is different.

They are quite racially diverse, which is a telling sign. Young white people are engaged and are speaking out about the evils of racism. I believe strongly they will be instrumental in bringing about racial reconciliation. They have come of age in an era of integration and do not see us as the enemy. They have black friends and do not see any stigma attached to it.

Dr. King said, “Justice for black people will not flow into society from court decisions nor from fountains of political oratory. Nor will a few token changes quell all the tempestuous yearnings of millions of disadvantaged black people. White people must recognize that justice for black people cannot be achieved without radical changes in the structure of our society. The comfortable, the entrenched, the privileged cannot continue to tremble at the prospect of change to the status quo.”

Men and women of good will must lead the charge in making reforms that will benefit all of us because America is hurting right now.

James B. Ewers Jr. is a former tennis champion at Atkins High School and played college tennis at Johnson C. Smith University where he was all-conference for four years. He is a retired college administrator and can be reached at

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