During her appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on Tuesday night, Fallon asked Fonda “the exact moment” she knew she wanted to become an activist. The Grace and Frankie star recounted living in Paris in 1968 when American soldiers who had fought in Vietnam “started to teach me about the war.” After reading The Village of Ben Suc by Jonathan Schell at their urging, “I was a different person.”
Fonda then said that, by 1970, she had “become an organizer, an activist,” and she “didn’t want to” act any more, but the late former Detroit lawyer and politician Kenneth Cockrel Sr. urged her to continue her career because “the movement has plenty of organizers; we don’t have movie stars.”
And so, Fonda was apt to comment on the guilty verdict given to Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who murdered George Floyd by kneeling on his neck for over nine minutes last May, earlier Tuesday:
“I was so relieved, so grateful to the jury, so grateful to those policemen who testified against one of their own. Testified against Chauvin. That’s so important. But right now the anvil of justice is hot, and we have to seize it and make sure that we use it to bend the arc of history in the direction that Martin Luther King [Jr.] said, in the direction of justice.
But the most important thing, for me, as a white person—we white people have to realize this isn’t a zero-sum game. You know, they get something, we lose something. No. … It doesn’t take away from us, from white people. What we don’t realize is that all of us lose, we all suffer, because of racism. … It’s very hard to stay in one place for nine minutes. That guy was committed to killing George Floyd, and we all saw it.”
A jury found Chauvin guilty on all three counts—unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter—after 13 days of testimony.
Fonda is perhaps best known as an activist for her controversial position during the Vietnam War, though she more recently was arrested for participating in a Washington D.C. climate change march in December 2019. Her activism was traced thoroughly in the 2018 documentary Jane Fonda In Five Acts: