As the first quarter of 2021 comes to a close, we are about to enter a series of anniversaries.  How will you ‘celebrate’ them?  What about your colleagues and friends?  What about your organization?

About a year ago Ahmaud Arbery was pursued, shot, and killed as he was jogging near his home in Glynn County in Georgia.  Arbery was chased in a truck by Gregory and Travis McMichael (Father and Son) along with William Bryan in a second vehicle.  Later Ahmaud was confronted, shot and killed by Travis.

The significant delay in the arrest of any of the three persons added fuel to the fire of social injustice in Georgia and beyond.

As we all were spending more and more time at home because of COVID restrictions, we saw Amy Cooper call the police on a birdwatcher who had asked her to place her dog on a leash, in accordance with the park policy.  The nature, tone, and tenor of her voice on the call to the police all were of the type to accelerate their arrival and the intensity with which they would engage her alleged assailant.  She accused him of putting her and her dog in danger and in a second call accused him of assaulting her.

The video made clear none of this was true.  The courts later agreed.

These two incidents were a precursor to the murder of George Floyd and loss of Breonna Taylor.  One a video that catalogues the last minutes of a man who has the life pressed out of him by the knee of a police officer.  The other an unthinkable tragedy of being awakened from your sleep in your home to be confronted, shot and killed by police, who were in the wrong house.

Social justice eruptions all over the country spurred protests all over the world.  For many it also began conversations in our homes and businesses that had not happened before.

This was a year ago.  How will you recognize this anniversary?

Has your family, your business, your leadership team continued the kind of conversations that leave you “The Right Kind of Uncomfortable”?

Why am I talking about this?  Leaders in organizations and families and places of worship have taken varying paths over the past year as it relates to social justice.  Some rushed to the front, others were more tentative, while still others chose silence.  The impact of diversity on organizations, on ingenuity, innovation, productivity and yes, the bottom line has been made clear across industries.  The impact of Leaders and their intentionality around Diversity will have similar impact on the lessons that organizations have learned and the legacy they leave behind.

For those of us who mark critical learnings and revelations on a calendar.  For those of us who have been in relationships where anniversaries are important.  For those of us who have experienced great loss.  You know the importance of recognizing anniversaries…and you know what it can mean when you do not.

Hundreds of thousands of people, and your neighbors, your family members and maybe even you, experienced something powerful a year ago.  I encourage you to mark these anniversaries respectfully and appropriately, in meaningful ways.

Still wondering where you can start.  Consider a conversation with a trusted colleague or friend about how the social justice movement has impacted you.  Perhaps an organizational moment of silence in recognition of the lives lost.  Or a prayer for understanding, enlightenment and continued growth.  Ready to go further?  Consider a (re)commitment to look at those closest to you and those who follow your example, and ask the tough questions.  How much do we really know about the path others walk?  What is our obligation (ethically, morally, spiritually) to try to find out?  Then if you are ready, follow up with an action plan that drives your actions in accordance with the values listed on your website, on your living room walls, or shared with family before meals.

We continue to be in a time when all the above are desperately needed…and right now.