Former first lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaYouTube confirms it picked kids featured in Harris video Photos of the Week: Congressional Baseball Game, ashen trees and a beach horse The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Gears begin to shift in Congress on stalled Biden agenda MORE reflected on the Black Lives Matter movement that was reignited earlier this year following the police killing of George Floyd.
In an Instagram post on Tuesday, Obama noted the tumultuous events of 2020, writing, "We’ve endured so much this past year, from the devastation of the pandemic to the ups and downs of a hard-won election."
“But what has perhaps stayed with me most is the passionate message of justice and empathy that has defined the Black Lives Matter protests around the world,” she added.
The Black Lives Matter movement began years ago in response to the 2013 acquittal of George Zimmerman in the killing of Florida teen Trayvon Martin. While the movement has seen widespread protests in the U.S. and other parts of the world in the years since following the police killings of Black Americans, the push against racial inequality exploded worldwide after death of Floyd in late May.
Floyd, a Black man, died at the age of 46 after a white Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, was seen kneeling on his neck for more than 8 minutes during an arrest. His death sparked months of protests against racism and police brutality across the world.
In her post, Obama highlighted the story of Patrick Hutchinson, a Black man who went viral earlier this year when he was seen in London carrying a white protester who had been injured during a local demonstration to safety.
Hutchinson said the man, an apparent counterprotester, was still getting hit by protesters as he carried him away. “My real focus was on avoiding a catastrophe, all of a sudden the narrative changes into 'Black Lives Matters, Youngsters Kill Protesters.' That was the message we were trying to avoid,” Hutchinson said then.
Obama, who included footage of the moment in her post, said she wanted to highlight Hutchinson’s story because it’s difficult for her “to see so many people distort the unity and righteousness of these protests.”
“They’ve been sowing seeds of division, misrepresenting those crying out for justice as troublemakers or criminals. The truth is the millions around the world who showed up with their homemade signs were marching with the same kind of compassion that Mr. Hutchinson shows here,” she wrote.
“They’re folks who face discrimination on a daily basis because of the color of their skin. And they’re just asking to be shown the same level of humanity that our consciences demand we show anyone else in need,” she continued.
“I hope more people can find it in their hearts to meet these cries for decency not with mistrust, but with love and a willingness to listen. Because as the COVID-19 crisis has made clear, our fates are inextricably bound. If the least of us struggles, we all in some way feel that pain,” she added.
Obama said that unless people continue to speak out and march for equality, “none of us will ever truly be free.”
For the year ahead, Obama said she hopes more people will “reach out to understand the experiences of those who don’t look, or vote, or think like we do.”
“I pray that we learn to pause when we're tempted to react in anger or suspicion. And I pray that we choose generosity and kindness over our worst impulses. That isn’t always easy. But it’s a place to start,” she added.