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Mamie Irvin shows her support of the Black Lives Matter movement and leads the crowd in chants during the East Feliciana Minister’s Conference march on Monday.

Yes, Black Lives Matter.

This isn’t a question. This isn’t up for debate. The facts are clear. Every citizen in this nation matters, but it’s clear that, despite several good efforts and some important progress across decades, Black lives are not yet close to achieving the equality and justice they deserve.

The young are leading the way. They deserve our support.

It’s time for us to do more, much more, to address these inequities. For too long, we have given limited attention to what we must recognize as foundational, institutional and structural racism.

There has been progress since this nation was founded. Women can vote. Black men and women can vote. By law, public schools are open to all. Higher education has become more accessible to more people. There’s more diversity among local, state and national elected officials and in government leadership positions. Some of our major companies, corporations and nonprofits are more diverse. There are more banks, credit unions and lending institutions with more Black customers.

But it’s not enough.

Anyone paying attention recently knows we have a groundswell of citizen support for significant changes with our justice system. That includes a special focus on law enforcement and aggressive physical tactics. It also includes reviewing the court, jail and prison systems where too many people are staying simply because they don’t have money and resources. Every day Black people face glares, unwarranted skepticism and questions about why they are in certain neighborhoods and stores.

Black Lives Matter is an organization created in 2013 after the killing of Trayvon Martin in Florida with social media sharing and more organized in 2014 after the police shooting of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The organization fights for “freedom, liberation and justice.” None of us should be against any of that. We may disagree with some organization approaches, ideas and tactics. That happens as organizers grow protests into movements. Remember how Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr. protests became movements larger than any one individual.

Nothing has lifted our awareness and knowledge of numerous inequalities and inequities faced by African Americans like the novel coronavirus pandemic. We can debate and discuss the specifics, but numerous underlying conditions and health disparities make it obvious that some of these things have systematic racism roots. The same is true with law enforcement and policing and courts and the justice system.

Black Lives Matter was founded and based on ethnicity and race. It has become a larger movement as more African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, Native Americans and Whites are voicing support and showing up to be counted.

We encourage and invite our readers to join us as we add our voice to many others seeking equality and equity for Black people, and all of us. Black Lives Matter.