One year after
Hundreds marched in Santa Cruz Tuesday to honor Geoge Floyd on the first anniversary of his death on May 25, 2021.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
Civic Life

WATCH: One year after George Floyd’s death, have we gotten anywhere? Santa Cruz community members weigh in

Lookout Santa Cruz Managing Editor sat down with local leaders to discuss race and diversity issues and reflect upon where we’ve found victories and where we’ve still got work to do on the racial justice front.

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd was murdered when a white police officer placed his knee on Floyd’s neck. Coast-to-coast, protests erupted, and, locally, Santa Cruz police Chief Andy Mills took a knee alongside Mayor Justin Cummings and a sea of protestors in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

But while that might be a sign of progress, there have been other signs that America, and Santa Cruz, haven’t moved forward like some might have hoped in terms of racial justice in the past year. From the shootings of other young Black men nationally to “no white guilt” rocks turning up in Santa Cruz County to hate being directed at Asian Americans here and elsewhere, there’s a lot to ponder one year after Floyd’s killing.

Lookout’s Managing Editor Tulsi Kamath sat down with five key community voices Wednesday evening to talk about how far they believe we’ve come, both as a community here in Santa Cruz County and as a nation. Watch their talks below:

Dr. David Anthony: Now is not the time to be silenced

About Dr. David Anthony: He has been a professor of African History at UC Santa Cruz since 1988. Anthony’s focus on research includes: African and African-American history, art, music, literature and cinema; Eastern and Southern Africa; African languages; Indian Ocean world; African and African American linkages; Islamic civilization; African diaspora studies; World history. Anthony is a leader in campus public service, and has participated in a broad range of events such as film screenings, public talks and exhibitions, including the UC Santa Cruz Annual Martin Luther King, Jr Memorial Convocation.

Cat Willis: Reflecting on BLM, race and the Santa Cruz community

About Cat Willis: She is the Founder and Executive Director of the Tannery World Dance and Cultural Center. She is a founding member of the Santa Cruz County Black Coalition for Justice and Racial Equity and is founding director of the Black Health Matters Initiative alongside community partners; County Park Friends, United Way of, NAACP Santa Cruz Chapter, Blended Bridge, and the SCC Black Coalition for Justice and Racial Equity. She currently sits on the Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County RISE Together leadership circle and the Santa Cruz County’s Commission on Anti-Racism, Economic & Social (CARES) Justice.

Spike Wong: 3 generations of Chinese-American family see the evolution of racism against them

About Spike Wong: He is local playwright and former school teacher. Born in Watsonville, Spike had the quintessential 1950’s small town California upbringing. His father’s parents had landed here while they were agricultural laborers and cannery workers. After his father’s WWII military service in the US Army Air Force, he eventually became a partner in a grocery store. His mom was a business and school secretary through most of her working career. Through their hard work, all three of their sons graduated from college.

Maria Cadenas: How racist policies have perpetuated the cycle of systemic racism

About Maria Cadenas: She is the executive director of Santa Cruz Community Ventures, which is committed to developing compassionate and local equitable economies that contribute to the region’s well-being. Her work focuses on the development of scalable models to address income and wealth gaps, especially those faced by communities of color and women. In the words of Community Action Board’ of Santa Cruz County’s MariaElena De La Garza: “Maria is a fierce advocate for the community impacted by poverty. She offers tangible and thoughtful solutions to make our community stronger!”

Natalie Olivas: Policing reform can lead to environmental justice

Natalie Olivas is the Community Organizer at Regeneracion where she helps to build community capacity to advocate for equitable climate action. Her childhood exposed her to the extreme outcomes of environmental degradation which drove her to pursue a career in environmental justice. She works across sectors to interweave climate justice into various programs and curriculums. Natalie has experience working with local governments, businesses, and nonprofits in policy analysis, meeting and analyzing sustainability goals, and education and outreach.