RIO LINDA, Calif. (KTXL) — Graduation day marks an entrance into adulthood and new beginnings for young men and women.
Thursday, at least one Rio Linda High School graduate’s mind was not filled with excitement and potential but with anxiety and preoccupation in light of events nearly two thousand miles away.
Graduation day was always going to be full of emotions, but those of Damon Black may not have been seen coming.
“You’re graduating. How are you feeling today,” FOX40 reporter Karma Dickerson asked.
“I feel OK. What’s bothering me is the police is still killing black people,” said Black.
As he comes to a day he’s been anticipating, Black’s future dreams are clouded with the present reality.
“It’s something I can’t not think about when I wake up,” he continued.
His thoughts were filled not with celebrations, or gifts or new freedom.
“Rest in peace to George Floyd,” Black said.
His mind was on Minneapolis, with the memory of George Floyd, who died earlier this week after a police officer kneeled on his neck during an arrest.
The officers involved have been fired though calls by some for their prosecution echo across the country.
These disturbing images and reminders of the reality for black men in America left the new graduate not much in the mood to contemplate what his own future holds.
“I get to get out high school I guess but after high school I still got to live in fear,” Black said.
His family was full of smiles, support and encouragement but his mother Lauana Harriel admits she worries about what the world had in store for her son.
She shared advice to him and other families as she celebrates the commencement of her third and youngest child.
“My thing is believe in the most high, share love and be positive,” Harriel said.
Black says he does have dreams which include attending American River College in the fall, but to achieve them he feels he’ll have to be not just positive, but vigilant.
“I guess after high school I just gotta watch my back even more,” he shared.