Americans rediscovered the power of collective action last week. They found unity in what binds us — a common commitment to democratic self-government and equal justice. As a result, we saw massive, mostly peaceful demonstrations in every part of the country.

This was a case in which people were leading, and the best of our leaders swiftly moved to catch up. Hundreds of police officers took a knee with protesters. Reporters risked physical harm to show the events to the nation. And D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) told the president to remove federal troops, had “Black Lives Matter” painted on two blocks of 16th Street NW leading to the White House and renamed that stretch of road “Black Lives Matter Plaza.” Military leaders — both active and retired — declared their sympathies were with those demanding equal justice and made clear the military would not allow itself to be used for Trump’s repressive stunts.

Sens. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) passionately denounced Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) for objecting to anti-lynching legislation — a move so tone-deaf and insulting to African Americans as to defy explanation. Former vice president Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, delivered two presidential-quality addresses seeking to heal the nation and summon us to attack systemic violence.

Minnesota state attorney general Keith Ellison (D) charged now-former police officer Derek Chauvin with second-degree murder, among other charges, and other officers at the scene of George Floyd’s killing with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.

An array of civil rights groups filed suit in Washington and in Minnesota against government officials for unlawful suppression and use of excessive force against protesters and, in Minnesota, against members of the media specifically.

Religious leaders of diverse faiths came together to denounce use of force against protesters and to condemn President Trump’s exploitation of the Bible and houses of worship.

#NeverTrump Republicans put out powerful ads denouncing Trump’s actions and his followers’ embrace of the Confederate flag. Facebook employees staged a walkout and took on chief executive Mark Zuckerberg over his decision to allow Trump to post his “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” New York Times employees prevailed upon management to acknowledge error in running a screed from Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) urging federal troops give “no quarter” (engage in indiscriminate killing) and misstating basic facts.

To be sure, we witnessed ugly scenes of police brutality, heard reprehensible rationalizations for Trump’s conduct, watched the administration generate lie after lie and saw countless Republicans scurry away when asked to defend Trump’s actions (or worse, defend him). Nevertheless, the individual and collective acts of conscience were triumphant for a change. Far from “dominating” Trump and his ilk were on defense and many in figurative or actual hiding.

An historic week does not mean fundamental change is on the way. No federal legislation has been passed. A racist president remains bunkered in the White House. To carry through on the promise of reform, Americans will have to keep the pressure up. They must remain peaceful and avoid squabble within an emerging multi-racial, multi-generation and ideologically diverse coalition. Most of all they must turnout in November like never before. Their votes at the ballot box will determine whether this is a fleeting moment or the beginning of a long overdue reckoning. We must all vote like our lives depend on it. Because they do.

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