For equality before the law, Black lives MUST matter

Civic Nebraska renews our pledge to build a more inclusive and just society. We stand with Black Nebraskans and Americans, whose peaceful protests have shone a light on the ongoing violence directed at them and their communities. We affirm that Black lives matter.

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The motto of the State of Nebraska is Equality Before the Law. These words are sewn into our state flag and fly at our State Capitol, near the steps where generations of Nebraskans have assembled to share in protests, songs, and demands. From our state’s earliest days, these words have carried much greater importance than their formal definition – that each human being is subject to the same laws of justice. Through the decades, Equality Before the Law has been an inspiring call to Nebraskans to build a democratic society that values peace over discord, hope over distrust, and love over fear.

In reflecting on our state’s motto today, we find it wanting. Events over the course of history, and in recent days in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and countless other Black Americans, have made plain our failure in living up to those four essential words.

It is no secret that the most severe inequalities in Nebraska – and in the United States – are interlocked with race. In recent days, these disparities have come back into furious, deadly focus. Words are not adequate in the face of such senseless murder of Black Americans; we must now all be inspired to act. We recognize that until the systemic inequalities that enable such recurring tragedy and murder are meaningfully confronted, our vision of modern and robust democracy cannot be realized.

Today, Civic Nebraska renews our pledge to build a more inclusive and just society. We stand with Black Nebraskans and Americans, whose peaceful protests have shone a light on the ongoing violence directed at them and their communities. We affirm that Black lives matter. We grieve for lives needlessly lost, and we strengthen our resolve to rebuild a world in which empathy and love defeat ignorance and hate.

We know learning is an act of civic engagement. It is a powerful path to creating change in a young person’s life and also to their community’s ultimate safety and fortune. When young people lead, adults are compelled to do better. This is the infectious power of education, and it is this work Civic Nebraska will advance with even greater urgency. We will ensure that Nebraskans recognize their innate power and exercise it – in our streets, in our schools, in our neighborhoods, and in the halls of government.

We do this knowing that only when Black lives truly matter, then there will be, at long last, equality before the law.

Adam Morfeld, J.D.
Director and Founder
Civic Nebraska

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