This is not a moment, but a movement.

June 1, 2020


Dear Friends and Family,
The details are all too familiar to us now, the incident caught on video and shared with the world. On Monday, May 25, 2020, George Floyd, an unarmed 46-year-old black man from Minneapolis, died after a deadly incident involving four police officers. One of the officers, Derek Chauvin, used his knee to pin Floyd‘s neck to the ground for almost nine minutes, while Mr. Floyd pleaded for his life to the officers, saying “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe.”
Though all four officers were fired by the city of Minneapolis the next day, it took four days for the county district attorney to charge Derek Chauvin, the main protagonist, with third-degree murder and manslaughter. Chauvin’s charges were upgraded to second-degree murder the following week, while J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao were charged with second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.
Americans, both black and white, are struggling to process this horrifying incident. Many of us, especially those who are black and brown, know that this is far from an isolated incident. We hold in remembrance the names of people who have been wrongly arrested and killed by police across America. As horrible as those incidents have been, we also know that racism, discrimination, marginalization, hate, and poverty are the underpinnings of the brutality we witness.
And as we all know, these recent days of unrest are nothing new. The Urban Affairs Coalition was founded after the tragic assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community, government, and business leaders came together to better understand how we could work together to change from where we stand as a community and as people. Many of us had experienced the civil unrest of 1964 in our city and hoped to stem the civil unrest in 1968.
While there were violent reactions in Washington, D.C.; Baltimore; New York; Pittsburgh; and Wilmington, Delaware; Philadelphia did not react at the time with violence '68.
Over the last 52 years, we have continued to fight for those who are black, brown, and poor by reminding all of us - including government, business, community, and individuals - that we must come together as a city and respond to the needs of those that have the least.
We have elected mayors who have worked with city leaders to break down the walls of discrimination in many areas, including business, education, and civic life. Nonetheless, we know that we have a long, long way to go. Over 400,000 people in our city live in poverty; we  must never ever forget this fact. As long as individuals’ chances for success in our city are determined by zip code, skin color, and financial status, then we should continue to expect that peaceful events that turn into to violence and looting, as we continue to see throughout this week, may continue to happen - over and over again.
I would argue that we need to look deep within ourselves and look past the easy answers. We must ask ourselves the tougher questions: How do we end this nightmare for 400,000 Philadelphians? Why, after all these years, have we not made more progress?
This is not a moment, but a movement.

Let’s talk. Let’s think. Let’s listen. Most importantly, let’s recommit to the humanity in us all and act decisively to make those in greatest need our number one priority.


Sharmain Matlock-Turner