They almost always begin to right wrongs: illegitimate wars; decades of discrimination on the grounds of gender or racial or sexual identity; killings of innocents by police or gun-toting lunatics; oppression by governments wielding unequal laws; the deeply embedded legacy of centuries of racism.

They are imperfect. Arising out of rage, they can be unfocused, inchoate, contradictory. Protesting violence, they often involve violence. Protesting oppression, they sometimes oppress by destroying public spaces, small businesses, even entire neighborhoods.

But sometimes they are large enough and powerful enough and righteous enough to bend the arc of history. We are in such a moment. There has been a turning. A protest against the murder of a black man by police in Minneapolis has become a movement. Demonstrations, which began almost two weeks ago, are ongoing. They are huge. They are nationwide. They are peaceful. They show no signs of stopping.

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