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She was about four feet tall, and as powerful as could be.

I was outside the White House last week, joining the peaceful protesters near Lafayette Square, when I saw her.

A young Black girl, maybe 9 or 10 years old, holding a sign.

It read, "Hoping for the American Dream, living the American nightmare."

A child.

She deserves better from her country.

Every single child deserves to grow up in a country where they have the same chance to make their dreams a reality as every other child.

On this Juneteenth — commemorating the day 155 years ago today when the last enslaved Americans finally got their freedom — we commit ourselves to finally end the scourge of racism. Systemic racism by institutions public and private, white supremacy embedded in our culture so deeply it is too-often invisible to many of us, and the compounding inequities that build up over generations all conspire to make America a deeply unequal place for Black Americans.

We must act.

We must act in ways big and small.

This week, I joined Senator Cory Booker in sponsoring the Justice in Policing Act, to fundamentally reshape how police officers and organizations treat Black people.

Also this week, I joined Senator Ron Wyden in stepping aside as the co-chairs of Oregon's delegation to the Democratic National Convention—in favor of Rosa Colquitt and Travis Nelson, two Black Oregonians who will do an excellent job leading our delegation. Their voices should lead the way, not mine.

Big and small.

There is much more to do. But we must work to bend the arc toward justice, to ensure that America means freedom, justice, dignity, and opportunity for every American, no matter the color of their skin.


Posted on June 19, 2020.

Born in the small town of Myrtle Creek, Oregon, Jeff Merkley has never lost touch with his working class roots.

As a U.S. Senator, he works every day to create opportunity for working families, stop the corruption of our democracy, and tackle the climate crisis.

A workhorse and a progressive champion, Jeff Merkley is leading a movement to get our country back on track.

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