On May 25, 2020, I was campaigning when I got a phone call to tune in to what was happening to a gentleman by the name of George Floyd. While watching George Floyd die a slow and agonizing death under the knee of a rogue law enforcement officer, I felt a deep heart wrenching sadness that came over me. I felt powerless, furious and overtaken with adrenaline. I felt like time had stopped and the only thing that mattered was relief for this gentleman. In a split second, I knew that his life did not matter to the officer. In that moment, it became very real that George could have been me or anyone that looked like me. In those nine minutes, I became even more convinced that I was making the right decision to run for federal office. All that I had learned about social change and political action came together in my mind and it was in that moment that I understood that my calling was to bring a cultural awakening and real policy change that would truly bring people to a deeper understanding and appreciation of one another. All of the emotions and thoughts moved me to act, I knew that change had needed to occur or this incident would erode the moral fabric of our society. I knew that the counter action had to be civil and it had to be sustainable. We need new leadership in the United States Senate because real change will have to take place at the federal level to supersede all of the Jim Crow style legislation being proposed at the state and local levels.

Timing is everything and everything that we do is measured by time. In nine minutes and 29 seconds, Officer Derek Chauvin kept his knee to the neck of George until he could no longer continue breathing and he suddenly ceased to exist. Nine days later, many American cities held rallies and protests for change and four police officers were arrested and charged with 2nd degree murder, aiding and abetting by Keith Ellison, Attorney General of Minnesota.

I understand that not every American has had, will ever have or even understand what it is like to constantly feel the weight of oppression in the midst of this affluent society. Like many of my brothers and sisters living in this struggle, I know firsthand what it feels like to experience the weight of society’s proverbial knee on your neck. Often times, the weight of this burden is unbearable and it becomes hard to breathe. Know that I know exactly what that feels like. This is one of the reasons that I am running as for the United States Senate. A great deal can happen within 9 minutes. So, I ask the question. What are you going to do with your 9 minutes?

The “9 Minutes Challenge” as a nationwide political action campaign aimed at setting this country on a new path forward. This campaign is designed to bring about change with respect to institutional and systemic racism, criminal justice reform, voter suppression and true representation because we desperately need it. This campaign will challenge citizens to take a more active role in their political action and social engagement. We can no longer afford to have our neighbors on the sideline allowing those that do not care about us to dictate the future of our lives. It is time to rise up and take a stand. It is time to come together, in love, unity and under one voice to say enough is enough! It is time take back the power from those who misuse and abuse it. We will be victorious because it’s our time.

I am challenging citizens across the country to take the “9 Minutes Challenge” to change the path of our nation. If we really want change, we should take nine minutes and register to vote, take nine minutes to order a vote by mail ballot and take nine minutes to vote this in every election like your life depends on it, because it does and let’s send a strong message that we will not be snuffed out and we will not be silent anymore.

We want to inspire all participants to reach out to others and encourage them to make a difference with their nine minutes, which represents the time that George Floyd took his last breaths. We can honor George by making positive and impactful change to ensure that this never happens again in America.

Other ways to participate in the 9 Minutes Challenge will be to take nine minutes to sign our petitions to end private prisons, stop mass incarcerations for people who suffer from drug addition, abolish slavery in prisons, federal ban on chokeholds, the mandatory usage of body cameras, and a national registry system for filing and logging complaints against Law Enforcement Personnel.

Also, participants can take the challenge through allenellison.com, Allen Ellison for US Senate at Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Once a person has taken the challenge, they should be sure to upload a selfie taking the challenge and use our hashtags #anewpathforward, #9minutes and #makeitcount.