In this difficult time I’m finding myself reflecting on these powerful words Robert Kennedy spoke 54 years ago in Cape Town South Africa.
“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance”
This week, through the pain and heartbreak of George Floyd’s murder, millions of women and men in every corner of our country stood up for an ideal, acted to improve the lot of others and struck out against injustice. To those millions who made ripples this week, we are deeply and profoundly in their debt.
I was able to join peaceful protests throughout our area this week and I was tremendously inspired by the show of unity, moral clarity, and youthful energy. I really believe that this time will be different, because this generation of young people is different. And I appreciated the police chief who kneeled with us in East Palo Alto and others who were supportive.
To be an American is to live with all of our historic racial injustice and pain while we hope for change and equality everyday. We are all the hope of 1964 and the grief of 1968. The battle of Gettysburg and the New York Draft riots. The Fugitive Slave Law and the Civil Rights Act. We are all 2020, and we are all 1619.
Thank you to those who rallied, stood up, fought for change, and sacrificed before this day and thank you to those who are standing up now. I want to hear from you about actions you are taking and actions you think I should take. Let’s commit to action together. And let’s start in our local communities. The whole world is watching.
Please join me for a series of conversations about how we take action, starting this Friday June 12th with Joe Marshall, MacArthur Genius Award winner and Ashoka Fellow, the founder of Alive & Free, an international violence prevention organization headquartered in the Bay Area and former past president of the San Francisco Police Commission. You can sign up here, more details and guests to come.
Dr. Joseph E. Marshall, Jr. is an author, lecturer, radio talk show host, and community activist. He is the founder of Alive & Free, an international violence prevention organization headquartered in San Francisco, the creator of the Alive & Free Movement, and president of the Alive & Free Consortium-an organization dedicated to eliminating violence worldwide. He is a past president of the San Francisco Police Commission and a trustee emeritus of the University of San Francisco.
Dr. Marshall is an Ashoka Fellow, part of a network of leaders in more than 60 countries who are implementing system-changing solutions for the world’s most urgent social problems. His innovation has earned him the MacArthur Genius Award, the Children’s Defense Fund Leadership Award, the Essence Award, and the Use Your Life Award from Oprah Winfrey. He is the author of the 1996 best-selling book, Street Soldier: One Man’s Struggle to Save a Generation, One Life at a Time and the subject of the Street Soldiers documentary narrated by Danny Glover which aired on PBS.