SEAL BEACH, Calif. — It's hard to forget the tearful testimony televised to the world from Charles McMillian of Minnesota during the Derek Chauvin trial.
It certainly had a strong impact on Richard Glassman. In fact, the Seal Beach resident was so moved by McMillian’s testimony, he decided to contact the man through his son on Facebook.
"We would love to fly your dad out here for a vacation," Glassman wrote.
A week-long vacation — all expenses paid but McMillian wasn’t so quick to just hop on the next plane.
"We thought he was a crazy man!" McMillian said. "This was right after the trial. This man might be trying to shut me up and kill me or whatever."
But with his son, Charlie Jr. by his side, he felt safer and agreed to make the trip from Minnesota to Southern California. Charlie Jr. had never been on a plane and neither one had ever been in the ocean or seen it in person.
"It was just amazing, everything about it. The air smelt different, taste different," Charlie Jr. said.
The two also rented a mustang convertible and set off to see the sights.
"I loved it because I’d never been to California before," McMillian said.
"They went all the way from PCH down to almost Mexico," Glassman said.
As a former correctional officer in Ventura County, Glassman said he’s learned a thing or two about race over the years.
"I found it amazing that after what Charlie saw, that he still had enough love in him to still have respect for law enforcement, but yet to tell the truth of what’s going on today in society against Blacks and other minorities," Glassman said.
In 2014, Glassman was attacked by a group of inmates trying to get his keys. They failed and he survived, but the injuries effectively ended his career. He's had two back fusions, a back operation and a neck fusion.
Now retired, Glassman said he’s acutely aware of his own prejudice growing up in Yonkers, New York where he never spent time around Black people.
"I was always under the impression from watching TV shows, music, that with Black people, you have to be more cautious. That was 1000% wrong," he said.
Glassman called it a race-relations vacation…and said the world would be a nicer place if more people made an effort to do something similar
"I think it was great because I never spent a week with a person I didn’t know from another race," Glassman said.
Throughout the week, the men shared stories, meals and quickly developed a powerful bond, despite their differences.
"I wanted to give them something that they never had that I had, but it wasn’t really fair how I was able to get things in my life because I’m white," Glassman said.
McMillian grew up poor and only has a third Grade education, but a wisdom all his own.
"Richard’s a lot like me, and I learned that I have to think before I say things, think before I confront people," McMillian said.
The two enjoying talking almost daily.
"We’re different, but we’re not different because once we talked, it made me and you a whole, made you my brother and my best friend," McMillian said to Glassman via a webcam.
A year after watching George Floyd die, McMillian says he still struggles with PTSD.
"I watched this man get murdered and every day, I have to live with that in the back of my mind," he said.
A GoFundMe page has already raised thousands of dollars to get McMillian some of the help he needs.
"There’s no such thing as color. We all are human beings," he said.
As for when the McMillian’s plan to have Glassman come to Minnesota?
"We’re going to wait ‘till like January or February so he can feel the coldness," Charlie Jr. laughed.
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