To the Editor:

The murder of George Floyd became the catalyst for protests for justice and to end systemic racism. Multiracial/ethnic communities throughout the world began to protest in support and solidarity of Black Lives Matter. For a large segment of people, these three words became the unifying force to address structural racism and injustice. This phrase for some is incendiary and the President of the United States said, “it is a symbol of hate”.

How is the value of Black lives manifesting itself in the racial and ethnic diversity of Bell County?

Prior to the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed Michael Dean was shot in the head by a Temple Police officer on Dec. 2. This event resulted in community outrage and protest about the delay in providing information to the family and the processes used by the city. The police officer was charged on Feb. 10 with manslaughter.

Another example that offers insight on the value of Black lives occurred when a prominent local businessman reposted racially charged verbiage on his Facebook page. The post resulted in pushback from community members and he eventually apologized. The Killeen City Council and community is grappling with a violation of public meeting decorum during a recent meeting and the allegation that it was racially motivated.

Many organizations and business leaders throughout the United States have offered statements in support of the value of Black lives and social injustices. Many of these were performative and time will tell if they were authentic.

Two local school districts, Temple Independent School District and Belton Independent School District, offered statements to their respective communities acknowledging the racial unrest and the value of Black lives and desiring to improve these matters.

The ongoing movement to remove the Bell County Confederate statue regained new momentum, and the renaming of Confederate Park in Belton is in its final stages.

The Bell County Commissioners Court designated August as Black Business Month. This is a historic first and there is the potential for many more actions that will promote inclusion, equity, and understanding for all lives within Bell County. To realize this, we need to examine why and what we believe about people.

Rev. Philemon Brown

Harker Heights

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