Editor’s Note: CNN host Van Jones is the CEO of the REFORM Alliance, a criminal justice organization. The views expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion on CNN.

CNN  — 

In the wake of George Floyd’s killing, the Movement for Black Lives – already a massive global force – has succeeded in birthing a phenomenon infinitely larger than itself. It can only be called a “Great Awakening” of empathy and solidarity, one without historical precedent.

Van Jones

Once feared, dismissed and reviled, Black Lives Matter has suddenly become one of the world’s most beloved brands, with exponentially growing support. Its protests have quickly grown into a cultural tsunami that is sweeping through media, the academy, houses of worship, Hollywood and even corporate board rooms.

This new, building force may someday change the course of world history. In many ways, it already has.

In the context of an otherwise divided and fractured US, a new continent of common ground has emerged.

  • Many more white Americans now accept that anti-black racism is a real and present danger. For large numbers of people, the idea that “racism is over” is now itself over.
  • Many more white Americans understand that our policing and criminal justice systems are systemically unfair to African-Americans.
  • And many more white Americans want to do something about it – even if they don’t know exactly what.

This sudden, mass realization – and the multi-racial demonstrations that give it weight, life and substance – feels like a miracle to me. As a black man, I have spent my entire life trying to convince relatively small numbers of white people to take racial injustice seriously. I have usually failed.

Now major corporations are making my argument for me. Hundreds of thousands of white protestors are risking their lives in the middle of a pandemic to chant “Black Lives Matter.” And I have begun to believe that – just maybe – the world for my two black sons might actually be a better place.

The swing from despair to hope has been disorienting. Two weeks ago, everyone I know was disgusted and despondent – having watched a white police officer kill a black man named George Floyd in broad daylight. The sad truth is that sneering white men have strangled black people to death in this country for centuries. (The practice was so widespread that civil rights hero Bryan Stevenson built a massive monument in Montgomery, Alabama, to memorialize the victims of this grisly practice.)

But this time, a captive audience of millions of Americans – stuck indoors during the Covid shutdown – bore witness to the horrific deed on their cell phones, all at the same time as the video went viral. The horror and injustice of this incident touched the consciousness of humanity. And now the world is making its revulsion known.

There is no official name for the protest wave that is sweeping the globe. But this Awakening has already racked up a long list of achievements.

Here are a few:

  • Police departments and cities, from California to France, have instituted bans on chokeholds alongside other efforts meant to enhance transparency and swift action against misconduct.
  • Michael Jordan has promised he will donate $100 million to support racial justice advocacy over the next 10 years.
  • Warner Music issued a similar promise to donate $100 million to social justice causes.
  • Public perceptions of policing and race have quantifiably experienced a dramatic shift. According to a recent Washington Post poll, three out of four Americans support the protests. In 2018, a Washington Post poll showed that 40% of America supported the Black Lives Matter movement.
  • The mayor of Los Angeles announced that the city’s police budget would be cut by $100-150 million. The funds would be reinvested into programs that serve communities of color.
  • Los Angeles is also instituting a moratorium on adding new names to the city’s gang database, which is under investigation for misuse.
  • A veto-proof majority in the Minneapolis city council pledged to disband the city’s police department.
  • Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Congressman Justin Amash (L-MI) introduced a bipartisan bill that would end qualified immunity, a legal doctrine that makes it difficult to sue police officers over rights violations.
  • The representatives of all 30 Major League Baseball teams issued a statement in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
  • Furthermore, the Players Coalition gathered more than 1,400 signatures from current and former athletes, coaches, general managers, and team staff, from the NFL, NBA and MLB, for a letter to Congress supporting the end of qualified immunity.
  • Black women leaders are taking over white celebrities’ Instagram accounts to #ShareTheMic and hold space for antiracist discussions.
  • The NFL is apologizing for not supporting players’ protests of racial injustice earlier.
  • The Senate Armed Services Committee passed an amendment, filed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, that would change the names of all military bases named after confederate generals.
  • Black authors topped the New York Times bestsellers list, indicating the deep sense of urgency to hear and learn from their voices.
  • Some enlisted soldiers and veterans have openly decried the possibility that they could be deployed to repress protests in American streets.
  • The city of Atlanta issued charges against the six officers who assaulted two young black people at a recent protest and shot them with stun guns.
  • The two Buffalo police officers who pushed an elderly man during a protest, knocking him to the concrete and, according to his lawyer, causing a brain injury, have been arrested and charged.
  • Mitt Romney marched with protesters and proclaimed on television that black lives matter.