The violent and unjust treatment of Black people has a long history in the U.S. It began with slavery, even before the nation was founded. From the 1600s to the 1800s, millions of people were kidnapped from their homes in Africa. Once in America, they were treated as property, not human beings.
Even after slavery was banned in the U.S. in 1865, other forms of racism continued. Many states had forced segregation and laws that limited black people’s basic rights, including voting in elections.
In the 1960s, during the civil rights movement, peaceful protests helped bring an end to these unjust laws. Still, racism toward African Americans remains a huge problem.
For years, many Americans have said that some police officers are racist and treat black people—and other people of color—differently than they treat white people. In the days since Floyd’s death, across the world, people of all races and backgrounds have held marches and other demonstrations to call for change.
College student Kayla JuNaye Johnson, age 21, has taken part in the protests in Minneapolis. “I would always go out and support protests but never took full action like I did yesterday,” she told The New York Times. “Now I finally know how us African Americans felt during the civil rights movement.”