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For many, the story of the weeks of protests in the summer of 2020 began with the horrific nine minutes and twenty-nine seconds when Police Officer Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd on camera, and it ended with the sweeping federal, state, and intrapersonal changes that followed. It is a simple story, wherein white America finally witnessed enough brutality to move their collective consciousness. The only problem is that it isn't true. George Floyd was not the first Black man to be killed by police—he wasn’t even the first to inspire nation-wide protests—yet his death came at a time when America was already at a tipping point.
In Say Their Names, five seasoned journalists probe this critical shift. With a piercing examination of how inequality has been propagated throughout history, from Black imprisonment and the Convict Leasing program to long-standing predatory medical practices to over-policing, the authors highlight the disparities that have long characterized the dangers of being Black in America. They examine the many moderate attempts to counteract these inequalities, from the modern Civil Rights movement to Ferguson, and how the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others pushed compliance with an unjust system to its breaking point. Finally, they outline the momentous changes that have resulted from this movement, while at the same time proposing necessary next steps to move forward.
Curtis Bunn is an award-winning journalist at NBC News BLK who has written about race and sports and social and political issues for more than 30 years in Washington, D.C., New York, and Atlanta. Additionally, he is a best-selling author of ten novels that center on Black life in America.
Michael H. Cottman is an author and award-winning journalist. He served as Program Editor for NBCU Academy, a journalism education and training initiative with the NBCUniversal News Group Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Team. He is also the former Editorial Manager of NBCBLK, a division of NBC News Digital. Cottman is a former reporter for The Washington Post and The Miami Herald, among other publications. He has authored, co-authored, and edited eight non-fiction books.
Patrice Gaines is author of the memoir Laughing in the Dark and Moments of Grace. She was a reporter at the Washington Post for 16 years where she was a member of a team nominated as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. She was awarded a Soros Justice Media Fellowship to write a series of columns about the impact of incarceration on the Black community. At age 21, Gaines was found guilty of drug charges and forever labeled a “convicted felon.” In the decades since, she has spoken and taught in prisons and jails, and also lectured at colleges and conferences on the brutality and failure of America’s criminal justice system.
Nick Charles has reported, written, and edited for various media at the local and national levels. He has been a reporter/writer and contributor to the Daily News, People, NPR, the Washington Post, The Undefeated, and several other publications. He was the Editor‑in‑Chief of AOL Black Voices and the VP of Digital Content for BET.com. Charles is the Managing Director of Word In Black, a collaborative of 10 Black-owned media and an editor and spokesperson for Save Journalism Project.
Keith Harriston worked for 23 years as a senior newsroom manager, department editor, investigative reporter, and beat reporter covering public safety policy at The Washington Post. As a reporter at The Post, he twice was a nominated finalist by the Pulitzer Prize Board. Since leaving The Post, Harriston has taught journalism at American University, Howard University, and George Washington University, where he currently is a professorial lecturer in journalism.