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the american dream

from rags to riches?



  • Landmarks of the U.S. history
  • The American Constitution
  • The American Dream
  • The American Nightmare


  • colonial period
  • independence
  • new nation
  • 19th century
  • 20th century
  • 21st century

First English colony : founded at Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607.

Early settlements developed in New England, in the Middle Colonies and the Southern Colonies.
In 1620, the Pilgrims arrived on the Mayflower and founded Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts.
By 1733, thirteen English colonies had been established along the Atlantic Coast.


The Original 13 Colonies

The Boston Masacre 1770 and Tea Party 1773

The Goal of the 13 Colonies

-Right of Resistance : The right to rebel against the government in order to establish a democratic order.
-Freedom of speech, religion and the press
-Right to arms
-Protection by public trials and impartial jury
-Prohibition of cruel punishments

The Declaration of Independence of the United States occurred in 1776

New Nation

1789: Constitutional convention works out a completely new system of government (constitution of the United States)
"System of checks and balances"
1791: Bill of rights is issued, amendments ensure civil rights
freedom of religion, free press etc.

19 th Century

1803: Louisiana Purchase: big area west of the Mississippi was sold to the USA by Napoleon

1823: Monroe Doctrine: President James Monroe warns European nations not to interfere with Latin affairs
1830: Indian Removal Act: Native Americans who are living east of the Mississippi River moved to the West
Until 1850: Exploration of the West: The frontier, making the US stretch from east to west coast
1848: Mexico is annexed affiliated, westward expansion was completed
The Manifest Destiny came true
1861-65: Civil War between the Confederate States of America (South) and the Union (North)
1863: Emancipation Proclamation ended Slavery

The 20th century

1900-1920: Peak of Immigration

1929: Wall Street Crash

1930: The Great Depression

  • Cause: Stock market crash in 1929
  • Unemployment(25%)
  • Mass hunger
  • Poverty

1964: The Civil Rights Act

“Let this session of Congress be known as the session which did more for civil rights than the last hundred sessions combined”
-Lyndon B. Johnson

The American Constitution

The American Constitution

  • Written in 1787
  • Described how the new government would be organised, how government officials would be chosen and what rights the new central government would guarantee citizens.
  • The states approved the Constitution in 1789 and the list of individual rights, called the Bill of Rights, was added in 1791.
  • USA = nation ruled by laws, The Constitution = 'supreme law of the land'
  • Power of the federal government = limited

The Preample

System of checks and balances

The political system of the United States of America is a federal system -> Each state decides its own regulations







Form of government = federal presidential republic, president is the most important person in the state

System of Checks and Balnaces -> Supposed to balance and seperate power in the government into three branches : Legislative, Judicial and Executive

  • The Legislative branch in the United States is the Congress -> Includes the Senate and the House of Representatives
  • Their job = Make laws
  • The only branch allowed to declare war.
  • The Congress rejects or confirms presidential nominations for heads of federal agencies, federal judges and the Supreme Court.
  • Senators and Representatives are elected by the people.

  • The Executive's job = carry out and enforce laws.
  • Job done by the president, vice president and cabinet
  • The president = head of the country & leader of the federal government. He can veto legislation created by Congress.
  • The vice president can replace the President in case of an emergency.
  • The Cabinet members are nominated by the president and approved by the Senate -> serve as the president's advisors and heads of various departments and agencies.

  • The Judicial branch in the US consists of the Supreme Court and other federal courts.
  • Decide if laws violate the Constitution & discuss about important issues that affect the whole nation.
  • The court consists of nine justices -> nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate.







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  • The Democratic Party emerged from the Democratic- Republican Party, founded in 1792 by Thomas Jefferson
  • In the 2000s three Democrats became president : Biden, Obama & Clinton
  • Democrats are considered liberal, but within their own ranks, views range from left to conservative.
  • The party's basic goals : Strong state, regulation of economic systems, better education and many social programmes
  • Support of abortion and equal rights for all population groups
  • Active in environmental & climate protection
  • Diverse electorate that votes for the Democrats -> 72 milion voters




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  • Ranks second alongside the Democratic Party, has so far put 18 presidents in the White House.
  • In 1854, slavery was a major issue. To fight it, Abraham Lincoln and other opponents of slavery founded what is now the Republican Party. Goal : ''The American nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
  • Conservative position : Committed to a private economy with little state power, national security, protection at the borders, control of illegal immigrants and tax cuts.
  • Social concerns or environmental protection tend to be secondary.:
  • Reject marriage for same-sex couples or abortion
  • Voters are usually people in small towns and suburbs and ordinary people in the countryside -> Most come from the Northwest or the South.

The most important US- Presidents through the years

Thomas Jefferson

-Principal author of the American Declaration of Independence (1776 )

- Third President of the United States (1801-1809)
- In 1790 : First Secretary of State
- Leader of the Republican Party "Democratic-Republican",
-> ''Democrats" in present day

Abraham lincoln

-Probably the most important president in American history

-16th US - president (1860 - 1865)
-Presidential time : marked by the War of Secession -> He was striving to fight the hate between North and South
- During the time of Licoln , the USA was politically divided on the question of the legitimisation of slavery : Abraham Lincoln held the view that slavery was a offence against humanity.
-Killed on the 14th April 1865 during a visit to the theatre in Washington
-Symbol in the USA for the unity of the nation, democratic traditions and the liberation of slaves.


-Became the 32th US-President on the 4th March 1933 (until his death in 1945)

-Was governor of New York during the stock market crash
-Wanted to help the working class with a 20-billion-dollar program
-His government introduced European style reforms
-Definded the Allies' war aims against Nazi Germany
- Was a symbol of hope for Americans


-35th President of the USA (1961-1963), first Catholic president in the USA

-One of the most significant events of Kennedy's presidency for the world was the Cuban Missile Crisis
-> almost led to World War III
-Active in foreign policy in Europe, reacted immediately to the planned construction of the wall in divided Germany
- John Fitzgerald Kennedy was killed on a trip to Dallas on the 22th November 1963 by several shots in his car.



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- 42th President of the US ( 1993-2001)

-Particularly active in the reconciliation with Vietnam, the fight against drug abuse, gun violence and poverty in the USA and the world.
-Involved in the Middle East peace process.
-Through his commitment to business and new technologies, the United States experienced the longest economic growth in its history.
->number of unemployed was at a low & inflation rate was the lowest it had been in 30 years.


-43th President of the USA (2001 to 2009)

-Goals of his term: strengthening the military, building trust between politicians and the American nation, Education reform & Tax reduction programme
-The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on 11th September 2001 drastically changed the US President's policy
-> From then Bush was fighting terrorism in foreign policy
- At the end of his second term: US fell into the great real estate crisis, resulting in the global economic and financial crisis


- 44th President of the United States of America (2009 to 2017), first Afro-American US President.

-Banned the use of torture as a measure for the US intelligence agency CIA.
- Economis stimulus programme "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act" -> revived the domestic economy and slowed the rising unemployment in the USA.
-Enacted a health care reform
-Aimed to regain the trust of the international community.
-Removal of all nuclear weapons worldwide and the provision of disaster and development aid
-First US president to present a long-term plan for climate protection.


- 45th President of the United States of America from 2017 to 2021.

- His presidential candidacy had the motto "Make America Great Again".
-Accused of making sexist and racist statements.
- "America First" -> Trump promised to make the USA wealthy, proud and safe again. The interests of American citizens > needs of other nations.
-Left several international agreements, withdrew from the Paris Climate Agreement
Job creation : important goal
- Important to strengthen national security : Fighting the Islamic State
- Main campaign promis : Build a border wall between the US and Mexico
- Events such as the COVID-19 pandemic shaped his time in office


-46th President of the United Nations of America, the oldest US president to take office.

- Important issues for his term are: COVID-19 pandemic, Economic crisis, Climate change, Health care system & Racism
-Undid many of the policy decisions from Trump -> rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
-Stopped the construction of the wall on the border with Mexico.
-His presidency made Kamala Harris the first Asian American, the first Afro-American and the first woman to be named vice-president.


attitude of hope

equality, liberty, glory, wealth

James Truslow Adams

reaching your goals

goal: united country


american beliefs and values

4 Types

  1. Fundamental, inalienable and God-given rights
  2. Patriotism
  3. Puritanism/protestant work ethic
  4. Open and dynamic society


Fundamental, inalienable and god-given rights:


Pursuit of Happiness



Importance of

national symbols


Statue of Liberty

The Flag

The Constitution

Patriotism (2)

Identification with the nation through:

National Holidays:

Independence Day
4th July

Patriotism (3)

Identification with the nation through:

national holidays:


  • Celebrating the harvest & other blessings of the past year
  • Creating togetherness
  • Celebrated widely

Puritanism/Protestant work ethic

active, continious participation

waste money

purchasing luxuries

hard work





open to immigrants of any nationality

melting pot:

open to new ideas and inventions

salad bowl:


  • Widely held cultural belief in the 19th century
  • Idea of the US as a global mediator
  • "Nation of the future"
  • Destined by God to expand westwards

John L. O’Sullivan

Immigration and minorities

push factors

lack of employment: bad income, social inequality

socio-economic reasons:
high taxes, lack of infrastructure,
poverty, hunger

ecological reasons: environmental disasters, climate

political reasons:
discrimination, persecution

Immigration and minorities 2

pull factors

job opportunities

escape from oppression

superior healthcare

educational opportunities

Immigration and minorities 3

1. Quick Brainstorming: Think about it for a moment.
2. Raise your arm if you think the American Dream is still alive. What is your main argument?


The American Nightmare


"American Nightmares describe the negative aspects of the American dream or the failure to fulfill the American dream"

What is the American Nightmare?

- There are negative aspects of America
- One can fail to achieve their dreams homeless?
- Being rich is not easy and fast to reach
- It's not easy to get out of poverty

Where do the American Nightmares appear?

American Nightmares are represented in many areas:
- education
- immigration
- gun power
- health care system
- poverty
- discrimination civil right movements, black lives matter
- econmic crisis


- They leave their home country

Because they experienced discrimination, were poor etc.
- Hope for a better life financial safety, education etc.
- They face the reality (the American Nightmare)
Very hard to reach these dreams


Healthcare system

- Poverty No money for healthcare
- Health supplies do not get paid by a health care system
- Only high earning citizens can afford health supplies
no money = no medical care
- Healthcare is very expensive
Broken leg = 7.500$
Three days in hospital = about 30.000$

Poverty in America

- Two sorts of poverty: absolute poverty and relative poverty
- High poverty level:
- Households with no husband (24,3%)
- Adults without high school diploma (23,7%)
- Families without head is unemployed (26,4%)
- Minorities (18,8%)
- No access to education or health care
- Homeless (worst case)


- No equal opportunities for education

- Low-income families no financial resources for a good school
- Children remain trapped in the lower class
- Low paid jobs in the future
Vicious cycle
- They are not helped without any support



- Discrimination in many areas:
+ when interacting with the police
+ when applying for jobs
+ when trying to rent a room or a apartment
+ when going to a doctor
- After slavery, black Americans continued being excluded
- Still discrimination ("only whites" signs)
- Segregated schools and neighboorhoods

I Have a Dream

Civil right movements

- Movement between 1950 and 1960: African- Americans kept fighting for their rights
- Many activistst such aus Martin Luther King, Malcolm X


-1863: Abraham Lincoln abolishes slavery by signing the emancipation proclamation

- 1865: slavery gets abolished by law, 4 million slaves gain freedom
- 1866: Ku Klux Klan was founded in Tennessee (a group of people who stand for the opression of black people)

Abraham Lincoln

I Have a Dream

Civil right movements

- 1868: The fourteenth amendment affirm black citizenship
- 1870: Fifteenth amendment affirms blakcs the right to vote
- In 1870: Racial segregations in the American south
- 1955/56: Martin Luther King begins active participation in the civil right movements
28.08.1963: Martin Luther King gives his famous speech "I Have a Dream" in Washington D.C.
- 1965: President Lynchon B. Johnson signs civil rights act (allows African American people to vote)
Ku Klux Klan revived
- 2009-2017: Barack Obama becomes the first afro american president of the United States

Black lives matter

- Movement founded by three women
- against violence against black people
- They organize protests
- Internationally known due to the hashtag #blacklivesmatter and the murders of the African Americans Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin by police officers
- To this day an internationally known organization, which is also supported by celebrities such as Beyoncé, Adele or Harry Styles

Black lives matter

Black lives matter

Cologne, Germany

Washinton D.C

Stockholm, Sweden

Krakow, Poland

Northampton, England

Gun Power

- Is the reason why many people don't want to go to America
- Every second citizen owns a gun
- Everyone has acess to buy a gun
- Mass shouting are "normal" in America
- Contradicts the conceopt of an American dream = safety
- Citizens don't feel safe in their home country
- Almost every second U.S. citizen knows someone who has been shot

Gun Power

Economical crisis

The Great Depression

Economical crisis

What has it to do with the American Nightmare?

- The Great Depression is also known as the fall of the American Dream
- The "land of opportunities" became a land of devastation
- Impact on America was huge:
- 25% of the population became unemployed until 1942
- Homelessness increased
- Housing prices plummeted, international trade collapsed and inflation increased

- Everything that the people had imagined under an American dream was destroyed

- The people managed to recover after years from the heavy burden of disadvantages.

The American dream



Donald Trump

John F. Kennedy

Abraham Lincoln

Lyndon B. Johnson

Barack Obama

George Washington

Who was the most important president of the United States?



Abraham Lincoln

We are united

We the humans

We the people

What were the first three words in the American Constitution?



"We the people"


Who articulated the Manifest Destiny?

John L. O'Sullivan

Jonathan O'Sullivan

James O'Sundman


John L. O'Sullivan


When was the Civil Rights Act signed and by who?

Abraham Lincoln in 22. September 1862

Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964

Eric Stanman in 1963


Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964


The fifteenth amendment was passed in 1870. What was stated there?

Slavery was abolished ("freedom" for the blacks)

Blacks citizenship

Blacks get the right to vote


Blacks get the right to vote


In which period was the Civil Rights Movement?







The American Constitution

  • https://www.historyonthenet.com/american-war-of-independence-facts
  • https://www.tagesspiegel.de/politik/historische-entscheidung-fuer-kamala-harris-diese-frau-koennte-einen-praesidenten-biden-in-den-schatten-stellen/26086478.html
  • https://www.spiegel.de/kultur/donald-trump-vs-joe-biden-tv-duell-aus-theatersicht-tobsuchtskoenig-gegen-badearzt-a-c00e9974-3bfd-4d59-a7a5-8130008198b3
  • https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/sep/20/pilgrim-fathers-harsh-truths-amid-the-mayflower-myths-of-nationhood
  • https://www.faz.net/aktuell/feuilleton/debatten/george-w-bush-portraetiert-amerikanische-immigranten-17398594.html
  • https://ww.w.swr.de/sw2/wissen/archivradio/1530-
  • https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franklin_D._Roosevelt
  • https://www.marca.com/en/lifestyle/us-news/2021/09/17/61449957¢a4741a5288b456d.html
  • https://studentsforliberty.org/north-america/blog/the=global-impact-of-the-us-constitution/
  • https://sportsposterwarehouse.com/products/preamble-to-the-united-states-of.america-constitution-we-the-people-poster-trends-international
  • https://www.welt.de/kultur/history/
  • https://www.businessinsider.com/abraham-lincoln-quotesassassination-2015-4Hon-genius-1
  • https://www.usa-info.net/usa-wiki/abraham-lincoln/
  • https://www.info-usa.de/abraham-lincoln/
  • https://www.history.com/news/5-things-you-may-not-know-about-lincoln-=and-emancipation
  • https://www.sueddeutsche_de/politik/kennedy=akten-john-f.
  • https://whoswho.de/bio/john-f-kennedy.html
  • https://www.planet-wissen.de/geschichte/persoenlichkeiten/
  • https://www.thebalance.com/fdr-economic-policies-and-
  • https://www.tagesspiegel.de/kultur/die-memoiren-von-barack-obama-das-licht-im-oval-office/26629412.html
  • https://www.zeit.de/zustimmung?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.zeit.de%2Fpolitik%2Fdeutschland%2F2016-11%2Fdeutschlandbesuch-barack-obama-rueckblick-fs
  • https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barack_Obama
  • https://www.t-online.de/nachrichten/ausland/usa/id_79183214/aussage-zu-obamacare-bill-clinton-patzt-und-bringt-hillary-in-bedraengnis.html
  • https://www.history.com/topics/colonial-america/jamestown
  • https://www.t-online.de/nachrichten/ausland/usa/id_79183214/aussage-zu-obamacare-bill-clinton-patzt-und-bringt-hillary-in-bedraengnis.html
  • https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massaker_von_Boston
  • https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/ File:DemocraticLogo.svg
  • https://www.vox.com/the-big-idea/2017/1/5/14176156/rebuild-democraticparty-dnc-strateqy
  • https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/us-whats-at-stake-in-2020-the-democratic-platform/1.963952
  • https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Jefferson
  • htwww.washingtonpost.com/politics/bill-ginton-barack-obama-and-uncle-jge-who-outlasted-them-both/2020/08/18/6ff0e150-e190-11ea-8181-606e603bb1c4_story.html
  • https://www.usa-info.net/usa-wiki/bill-clinton
  • https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Jefferson


The American Constitution

  • https://www.greelane.com/geisteswissenschaften/geschichte=-kultur/thomas-jefferson-significant:facts-1773438/
  • https://nationaltoday.com/thomas-iefferson-day/
  • https://www.worldatlas.com/geography/thirteen-colonies.html
  • https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/oct/03/how-the-republican-party-threatens-the-us-republic
  • https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/AbrahamLincoln
  • https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Datei:Republicanlogo.svg
  • https://www.economist.com/united-states/2018/07/21/male.voters-are-sticking-with-the:republican-party
  • httpwww.brainyquote.com/quotes/abrahamlincoln01395
  • https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boston_Tea_Party
  • https://www.info-usa.de/donald-john-trump/
  • https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Trump
  • https://www.manager-magazin.de/politik/
  • https://www.info-usa.de/barack-hussein-obama-jr/
  • https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_W._Bush
  • https://www.azquotes.com/quote/1537673
  • https://www.stern.de/politik/ausland/independence-day--die-unabhaengigkeitserklaerung-der-usa-vom-4--juli-1776-im-wortlaut-3376498.html


o Statue of Liberty Photo – Genial.ly Pixabay
o MLK Statue Photo – Genial.ly Pixabay
o https://corporatefinanceinstitute.com/resources/knowledge/other/american-dream/
o https://www.livingasequals.com/2019/11/03/what-are-god-given-rights/
o https://www.investopedia.com/terms/a/american-dream.asp
o https://www.cglearn.it/mysite/civilization/american-culture/a-story-of-immigration/melting-pot-or-salad-bowl/
o https://sites.psu.edu/ajwcivicissues/2019/01/21/melting-pot-or-salad-bowl/
o https://study.com/academy/lesson/puritan-work-ethic-definition-lesson-quiz.html https://www.dukechronicle.com/article/2015/05/american-patriotism-what-it-truly-means-today
o https://jdenello.pressbooks.com/chapter/19-patriotism-and-the-american-dream/
o https://www.britannica.com/topic/Declaration-of-Independence
o https://vocal.media/theSwamp/the-american-dream-is-immigration
o https://www.britannica.com/topic/Thanksgiving-Day
o https://www.britannica.com/topic/Independence-Day-United-States-holiday
o L Sullivan: https://www.americanyawp.com/
o Manifest Destiny: https://www.patheos.com/
o https://eu.usatoday.com/story/travel/experience/food-and-wine/2017/11/18/thanksgiving-news-usa-today-network/867016001/
o https://wallpapershome.com/holidays/thanksgiving-day-usa-canada-event-parade-turkey-family-2166.html
o https://www.vecteezy.com/vector-art/548039-4th-of-july-independence-day-of-the-usa-vector-illustration-fourth-of-july-american-national-celebration-design
o https://www.fanpop.com/clubs/united-states-of-america/images/23406573/title/independence-day-wallpaper
o https://askingthelot.com/why-was-the-manifest-destiny-important/
o https://spartacus-educational.com/USAE1900.htm
o https://lexingtonabogado.com/immigration/how-many-immigrants-came-to-the-us-in-the-1920s.html
o https://www.britannica.com/event/stock-market-crash-of-1929
o https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/civil-rights-act
o Pathway p.226 Immigration
o https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3581712/Watch-two-centuries-immigration-Incredible-animation-shows-populations-arrived-America-1820.html
o https://www.gvsu.edu/cms4/asset/C36BB20B-9927-1AE9-F5689F4682486302/push_and_pull_factors.pdf

The American Dream


The American Nightmare

• https://swhelper.org/2016/11/10/comparing-public-healthcare-us-europe/

• https://www.pewresearch.org/social-trends/2017/06/22/americas-complex-relationship-with-guns/
• https://de.statista.com/statistik/daten/studie/28081/umfrage/us-buerger-zum-vorhandensein-einer-schusswaffe-in-ihrem-haushalt/
• https://billmoyers.com/story/gun-culture-and-the-american-nightmare-of-violence/
• https://www.debt.org/faqs/americans-in-debt/poverty-united-states/#How_is_Poverty_Defined_in_America
• https://thehill.com/opinion/finance/581829-a-breakdown-of-poverty-in-america-is-a-mirror-to-the-nations-reality
• https://www.rwjf.org/en/library/research/2017/10/discrimination-in-america--experiences-and-views.html
• https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/segregation-united-states
• https://www.freenet.de/unterhaltung/promis/pictureshow/auf-die-strassen-diese-stars-unterstuetzen-black-lives-matterproteste_7810654_4729180_0_0.html • https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tötung_von_George_Floyd
• https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&url=https%3A%2F%2Fvocal.media%2FtheSwamp%2Fthe-american-nightmare&psig=AOvVaw1zO2ibh9ZYht6My8ycOlIY&ust=1647811109355000&source=images&cd=vfe&ved=0CAsQjRxqFwoTCMCgmfKM0_YCFQAAAAAdAAAAABAK • http://clevelandhs.org/ourpages/webdesign4/chatman/history.html
• https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&url=https%3A%2F%2Fde.wikipedia.org%2Fwiki%2FAbraham_Lincoln&psig=AOvVaw066SuIlp3Q9-p-xUGfVY92&ust=1647820880092000&source=images&cd=vfe&ved=0CAsQjRxqFwoTCKjjxqWx0_YCFQAAAAAdAAAAABAD
• https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.offthegridnews.com%2Fmisc%2F27-reasons-why-we-became-a-new-nation%2F&psig=AOvVaw31lt6VSTDpzuvwpmZzaR-k&ust=1647821188989000&source=images&cd=vfe&ved=0CAsQjRxqFwoTCLCGs7ey0_YCFQAAAAAdAAAAABAJ
• https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.alamy.de%2Ffotos-bilder%2Fimmigration-usa-poster.html&psig=AOvVaw3iiTiCxY65achVwfWX-pT8&ust=1647855103300000&source=images&cd=vfe&ved=0CAsQjRxqFwoTCJjlx_ew1PYCFQAAAAAdAAAAABA5
• https://www.cntraveler.com/gallery/black-lives-matter-protests-around-the-world
• https://www.voanews.com/a/usa_nation-turmoil-george-floyd-protests_protests-support-floyd-black-lives-matter-3-continents/6190652.html