Open letter to Minneapolis youth.
Dear Students of Minneapolis Public Schools,
This letter has been on my heart for quite some time and I want to finally have it reach your ears with the purpose of expressing my gratitude and respect – along with a promise – following last year’s student walkouts after the Michael Brown verdict and, more recently, your participation in the peaceful protest advocating #Justice4Jamar.
I am deeply stirred by the leadership and solidarity so many of you have shown in standing up to say Black Lives Matter.
I can’t tell you how heavy it weighs on me that you – like me, like my parents, and like my grandparents before them – still need to convince people that Black Lives Matter, in the 21st century.
“I’m tired of marching for something that should have been mine at birth” was one of the most powerful statements from Dr. Martin Luther King (1967). Nearly 50 years later, still you march and protest and we as adults hear you loud and clearly.
Like you, I am tired. Like you, I’m in pain. And like you, “I ain’t going nowhere. We have power. And as the chant goes the people United will never be defeated.
Because this is about our nation’s moral compass. This is about what it means to be a Beloved Community. It’s about the right to live fully for so many of us.
I hope you have felt supported in your choice to speak out. I have seen families, teachers, business and faith leaders, community leaders, elected officials, and many, many regular folks leading the way and standing beside you. But I want to take things a step further and acknowledge our complicity. As adults, leaders, and elected officials we have shaped and allowed the conditions that led to this point. We can’t celebrate your activism without acknowledging our complicity – and our own power to change things – directly in our schools and our communities for a start.
Adults can have the best intentions, but if we don’t change our behaviors and policies and really measure the impact our choices will have, nothing won’t change.
THANK YOU for waking us up. Thank you for calling us out. Thank you for giving us an opportunity to do better. Whether you protest or not, we see you. Whether you chanted or not, we hear you. Most movements for justice around the world have been led by young people. So I want to celebrate your courage in upholding this tradition. And yet you shouldn’t have to. So today I want to promise you this and I invite adults in our community to join me:
I will put you at the center and make it a practice to share how I’m doing so every time. You need to see us fighting like hell for you and feel us protecting, nurturing, learning from, and uplifting you. If you don’t see that… If you don’t feel that… it’s on us. But we can change and do what it takes so the reality of your life, your family, your neighborhood, your streets and your schools show you that Black Lives Matter.