And that’s what I just discussed with the Floyd family. The guilty verdict does not bring back George, but through the family’s pain, they’re finding purpose so George’s legacy will not be just about his death, but about what we must do in his memory. I also spoke to Gianna, George’s young daughter, again.
When I met her last year, I’ve said this before, at George’s funeral, I told her how brave I thought she was. And I sort of knelt down to hold her hand. I said: “Daddy’s looking down on you. He’s so proud.” She said to me then, I’ll never forget it, “Daddy changed the world.” And I told her this afternoon, “Daddy did change the world.” Let that be his legacy, a legacy of peace, nonviolence, justice. Peaceful expression of that legacy are inevitable and appropriate, but violent protest is not.
And there are those who will seek to exploit the raw emotions of the moment, agitators and extremists who have no interest in social justice, who seek to carry out violence, destroyed property, fan the flames of hate and division, who’ll do everything in their power to stop this country’s march toward racial justice. We can’t let them succeed.
This is a time for this country to come together, to unite as Americans. There can never be any safe harbor for hate in America. I’ve said it many times: The battle for the soul of this nation has been a constant push and pull for more than 240 years, a tug of war between the American ideal that we’re all created equal and the harsh reality that racism has long torn us apart. At our best, the American ideal wins out.
So we can’t leave this moment or look away thinking our work is done. We have to look at it as we did for those 9 minutes and 29 seconds. We have to listen: “I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.” Those are George Floyd’s last words. We can’t let those words die with him. We have to keep hearing those words.
We must not turn away. We can’t turn away. We have a chance to begin to change the trajectory in this country. It’s my hope and prayer that we live up to the legacy. May God bless you and may God bless George Floyd and his family. Thank you for taking the time to be here. This could be a moment of significant change. Thank you.