Transcript for The Year 2020: George Floyd’s death in police custody sparks a racial reckoning
America's got the greatest brochure in the world. A nationounded on the belief that all men are created equal. We are a nation of high-minded ideals. That's what we've all been sold. No justice -- No peace! This year, a nation came to the realization many are still fighting for that promise. The reckoning that has been long overdue has finally come to bear in American society. This is ahmaud. That reckoning first awakened in February with the viral video of ahmaud arbery in Georgia. Arbery, accosted while jogging by a white father and son, then shot dead in the street. Then, breonna Taylor, asleep with her boyfriend and later killed in a surprise police raid inside her Louisville apartment. What is this about? We're both just regular workers! Often, there's not a public outcry if there's not a viral video. In a video so shocking we won't show it, George Floyd yelling "I can't breathe" more than 20 times, under the tee of officer Derek chauvin in The man ain't moving, bro. He wasn't resisting. He was being restrained. There was a video of this incident. There was no violence or no way somebody could say he somehow deserved it. I can't breathe. I can't breathe. Say his name! George Floyd! The disturbing nine-minute video opened Pandora's box, unleashing the wrath behind an endless string for footage highlights a century's old issue. Justice for ahmaud! Say her name -- Breonna Taylor. Say his name -- George Floyd. Many comparing this year's grass roots ground swell to the beginnings of the civil rights movement, inspired by the lynching of a black teenager in 1955. Emmett till, whose disfigured image was circulated around the world -- In the same way that Emmett till sparked a movement, George Floyd is sparking a movement. Black lives matter. Black lives matter. I remember back in 2014 when we would say black lives matter and all the pushback that we would receive. You know, people would call us terrorists. But this time, protests spread to all 50 states. Cities big and small. Making it the biggest movement in U.S. History. Black lives matter. Black lives matter! Those chants reverberating around the world. There's black folk there, white folk therebrown folk there. There was cis and trans folk there, there were queer folk there. The call for equality expanding beyond race. Protesters rallying for civil rights of all marginalized people. We are constantly in a civil rights struggle. This year, we had the highest year on record of deaths of transgender people in the United States. What's happening now is, I feel an extension of what's going on in the '50s and '60s and even the early '70s. Protests also surfacing in the world of professional sports. Athletes in basketball, soccer, baseball, putting games on hold in the name of justice. We are scared as black people in America. Even our own black correspondents here at ABC news open up about covering a story that hits too close to home. You know, this is really difficult. I am seeing an image of me, a black man,ng killed on camera. It's hard to not think of yourself. Peaceful demonstrations overshadowed by an eruption of violence, setting the stage for a summer of unrest. Protesters clashing with police after curfew. Looters taking advantage of the chaos. Precincts like this one in Minneapolis, up in flames. Videotaping. A firecracker, Chris. In a standoff outside CNN headquarters in Atlanta. We cannot allow the rioting, the looting, the arson to continue in so many American cities. Until we rid this nation of systemic injustice, those outrages will persist and the protests against them will continue to occur. President trump fanning the flames on Twitter, calling protesters thugs. Later warning, "When the looting starts, the shooting starts." If these mayors and governors weren't going to put a stop to it, the president would. He was aggressive. He sent these paramilitary militias through the department of homeland security up to places like Portland, Oregon, or Kenosha, Wisconsin. Are you willing, tonight, to condemn white supremacists? Who would you like me to condemn? Who? Proud boys. Proud boys, stand back and stay by. The president sets a tone for the nation. And the tone that he set was one of anger, racism, bigotry and white supremacy. Fallout over this shocking video. Dozens of Buffalo police officers protesting the suspension of two colleagues seen shoving a 75-year-old protester. Pressure mounts for meaningful police reform. Many pushing to defund the police. Defunding is saying, let's take money out of this place and put it in that place. Let's defund the police and refund the community. The question becomes, who interveevenes in the conflict. Who responds to the harm? The police are the easiest, simplest and laiest answer to those questions, not the best. Major cities like Philadelphia, Portland and Baltimore pledging to cut or reallocate funding to support other services in the Every police department right now is trying to figure out, how do they reimagine what policing should be? Chants quieting, but signs the messages are being heard. Confederate relics being relinquished as statues come down, and NASCAR bans the confederate flag. The man who pushed for it? You can't force somebody to look at some perspective if they don't want to, but you can encourage them. Many corporations promising institutional changes by creating more diverse opportunity. The question now is, can we transform it from movement in the streets to movement in the suites? I think the jury is still out on that. In a year of reckoning, a nation taking tho tough steps towards bringing its divide. There is growth and there is hope. We keep trudging forward because we believe ultimately that right will win out.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.