When former Minneapolis Police Department officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of the murder of George Floyd in April, Barack and Michelle Obama shared a joint statement in which they noted “true justice is about much more than a single verdict in a single trial.”
Now, in a new interview with Gayle King, Michelle Obama is elaborating further on her and her husband’s decision to speak out in support of the verdict, as well as how the conviction should be treated as one important step in an ongoing push for justice at large.
“The goal is to let leaders lead,” the former First Lady said on CBS This Morning on Friday. “But in certain times people, you know, look to us often, ‘Well, what do you think? How do you feel? and we know that while we’re all breathing a sigh of relief over the verdict, there’s still work to be done.”
The fear of police brutality and other violent acts of racism, Obama added, remains a consistent source of anguish for many in the country.
“We can’t sort of say, ‘Great, that happened, let’s move on,’” she said. “I know that people in the Black community don’t feel that way because many of us still live in fear as we go to the grocery store or worry about walking our dogs or allowing our children to get a license. Just imagine [having] a son right now.”
Speaking on the concerns she has about her own children, Sasha and Malia, Obama said she worries about “what assumption” could be made by someone who doesn’t “know everything about them.” She also urged Americans to go deeper with the conversation surrounding racism and its continued impact across generations.
“We have to talk about it more and we have to ask our fellow citizens to listen a bit more and to believe us and to know that we don’t wanna be out there marching,” she said Friday. “I mean, all those Black Lives Matter kids, they’d rather not have to worry about this. They’re taking to the streets because they have to. They’re trying to have people understand that we’re real folks. And the fear that many have of so many of us is irrational and it’s based on a history that is just, it’s sad and it’s dark and it’s time for us to move beyond that.”
Earlier this week, Chauvin’s attorney requested a new trial for his client and asked for a hearing to have the verdict impeached. Chauvin was found guilty in April of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in the killing of 46-year-old George Floyd. During the fatal 2020 arrest, Chauvin—as was discussed in detail during the trial—held his knee on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes.