Published: Sat, August 29, 2020 6:00 PM
Updated: Sun, August 30, 2020 1:29 AM
Stand up. Speak up. Be accountable.
That’s one of the principal tenets that’s guided Jonathan Veal in recent months.
It’s been weeks of hard work, heartache, despair and hope all mashed together as he’s helped people in his community help navigate the global pandemic through his position as the director of jobs at RestoreOKC while also experiencing the harshest realities of racial injustice as the death of his friend sparked national protests across the country.
Veal, 45, said he’s seen first-hand the value of listening to your community at RestoreOKC, an Oklahoma City non-profit that promotes building relationships of reconciliation for restorative justice by serving the physical, social, emotional, educational, and economic needs of its Northeast Oklahoma City Neighborhood.
At the same time, he’s still grieving the death of his childhood friend George Floyd, who was killed by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in May, sparking thousands of people around the country to march in the streets demanding change and calling for justice.
Veal remembers the first time he met his friend Floyd, amazed by his size and charmed by his infectious smile. The two became fast friends and stayed in touch well past the glory days of their high school football championship run at Houston’s Yates High School.
Watching his friend die on the national news, Veal felt shattered. But he also saw the importance of the work still to be done.
“Any one of us could be Floyd,” he said. “For me it’s heightened my awareness of my need to take personal responsibility and to stand up, speak up and be accountable.