Jun 13, 2020

Axios AM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

Happy Saturday!

  • Today's Smart Brevity™ count: 1,055 words, 4 minutes.
1 big thing: The bottom-up revolution goes global, viral

Photos (clockwise from top left): Julia Rendleman/Reuters, Carl Juste/Miami Herald via AP, Francisco Seco/AP, Leila Navidi/Star Tribune via AP)

The bottom-up revolution ignited by the killing of George Floyd is spreading and appears to be sticking, toppling statues and statutes in a cultural and intellectual uprising the world hasn't seen in 50 years.

  • Why it matters: Fueled by social media and live news coverage, fury over George Floyd's murder on Memorial Day raced across the country within days — and around the world within a week.
  • The underlying injustices had been obvious for centuries. But this searing outrage, caught on video that was instantly everywhere, has captured the attention of a distracted world and has already produced durable changes.

The big picture ... Executive Editor Sara Kehaulani Goo points out the breadth of the response by governments at all levels:

In our polarized times, few things unite the country and push those in power to act. So it's remarkable how this has in 19 days.

The stunning photos above are from (clockwise from top left) Richmond, Miami, Brussels and St. Paul.

  • In London's Parliament Square, wartime prime minister Winston Churchill is literally in a box (below), boarded up to deter further vandalism.
Photo: Matt Dunham/AP

The obliteration of statues symbolizes momentous change:

  • Police departments around the world are banning neck restrains and chokeholds, and the "defund the police" debate is already causing governments at all levels to rethink the role and powers of law enforcement.
  • The Black Lives Matter movement went mainstream, embraced by corporations and drawing diverse crowds. Sen. Mitt Romney, Republicans' presidential nominee eight years ago, marched in D.C. and said on camera: "Black lives matter."
  • We showed you in Axios PM that support for Black Lives Matter increased as much in two weeks as it had in two years, as the N.Y. Times pointed out (subscription).

Workplaces have been transformed, with a raft of media executives booted.

  • Big Tech, long criticized for its lack of diversity, rushed to make amends.
  • Our kids will be baffled that it was common to see Confederate battle flags at family-filled NASCAR races. The displays were banned this week and the Army, Navy and Marines all moved to banish the flags from public spaces.
  • NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell posted a video saying: "[W]e were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier, and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest." He stopped short of crediting of Colin Kaepernick.

The bottom line: We're on the leading edge of a wave of change that was unimaginable 19 days ago when George Floyd cried out, muffled by a white man who didn't listen to the shouting around him: "I can't breathe."

2. Predecessors try to fill void left by DeVos

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Two former education secretaries, of both parties, are taking leads in talks about safely returning children to school in the fall, Alayna Treene writes.

  • Why it matters: The engagement by Margaret Spellings and Arne Duncan contrasts with the lack of visibility by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Some education leaders complain of a vacuum in federal leadership at a time when schools need help.

Spellings, who was education secretary under President George W. Bush, and Duncan, who served under President Obama, are becoming more active:

  • Duncan leads a weekly call with superintendents, and has been helping distribute meals. (See a video of Arne Duncan talking to Alayna Treene.)
  • Spellings — former president of the UNC System, now CEO of the nonprofit Texas 2036 — said DeVos "has not had as high a profile as some of the others of us. And that's been consistently true during her service ... I think people want to see her." (See a video of Margaret Spellings talking to Alayna Treene.)

DeVos declined an interview request.

  • In an emailed statement, spokeswoman Angela Morabito said that “Secretary DeVos hasn’t stepped back — she’s stepped up."
  • DeVos' office provided Axios with a five-page list detailing her COVID-19 response.

The bottom line ... Randi Weingarten, president of the 1.7 million-member American Federation of Teachers, tells Axios:

  • "There's three national crises that are going on — a pandemic, a recession and systemic racism. All of these things are going to show up in the anxiety that kids have when they walk through the doors in September."

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3. New York is making virus trends look better than they are
Data: The Covid Tracking Project. Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Coronavirus cases in the U.S. are going down — but that’s mainly because coronavirus cases in the New York area are going down, health care editor Sam Baker writes.

  • Why it matters: Take New York and New Jersey out of the picture, and U.S. coronavirus cases aren’t going down. They’re holding steady, or slightly increasing.

Several populous states — including Texas, Arizona and Oregon — are seeing their outbreaks get worse.

4. Pic du jour
Photo: Ted S. Warren/AP

During a March of Silence in Seattle yesterday, a protester holds a sign with the names of people who died due to police brutality and other incidents.

5. Pandemic accelerates closure of Catholic schools

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The pandemic is accelerating economic hardship for Catholic schools across the U.S.: Dozens closed their doors this month and many more may have to do the same, Marisa Fernandez writes.

  • Why it matters: The loss of private schools — about one-third in the U.S. are Catholic — could narrow the education market, especially in low-income and high-minority communities, federal estimates show.

By the numbers: 60 private schools, 49 of them Catholic, have permanently closed since the pandemic, displacing more than 8,100 students, according to the CATO Institute Center for Educational Freedom.

  • The National Catholic Educational Association told AP the number of Catholic school closures in recent weeks could be as high as 100.

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6. Trump pushes rally date originally set for Juneteenth

President Trump tweeted that he's rescheduling his first post-lockdown rally — in Tulsa — from June 19 to June 20, following criticism that it was set for Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S., Rashaan Ayesh reports.

  • June 19, 1865, the date of an order by a Union general in Texas, is celebrated as the anniversary of emancipation.
  • In Tulsa in 1921, a white mob attacked black residents and their businesses on what was known as "Black Wall Street," leaving roughly 300 black Americans dead in one of the most violent outbreaks of racism in U.S. history.

Trump told Fox News' Harris Faulkner [Corrected] earlier this week: "The fact that I’m having a rally on that day, you can really think about that very positively as a celebration. Because a rally, to me, is a celebration."

7. Oscar films must meet diversity qualifications

Photo: Mark Ralston/Getty Images

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said it is working to ensure that films eligible for Oscars meet an array of diversity and inclusion requirements, Sara Fischer and Gigi Sukin write.

  • Over the next five years, the Academy plans to encourage equitable hiring practices, working with the Producers Guild of America to develop a task force of industry leaders that will focus on diversity and inclusion standards for Oscar eligibility starting July 31.

The bottom line: This could mark a new era in Hollywood that meaningfully welcomes diversity for the first time.

8. 1 smile to go
Photo: Jeff Mitchell/Getty Images

Spotted in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Mike Allen

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