BOSTON (CBS) – “I’m often asked if this is the moment,” Emerson College President Lee Pelton said during a Zoom interview with WBZ-TV. “And what I’ve come to understand is, no this is not the moment. This is a movement.”
“It’s not the kind of civil rights movement we saw in the 1960s with distinguished leaders, adult leaders, but this is a movement that’s being fueled by young people,” he said. “They bring to this issue a fierce urgency and idealism. Young people are always prospective, looking forward, and they want it done now.”
Pelton also talked about how young people are using the power of social media to not only have their voices heard, but also to organize marches and bring people together.
Pelton said the racial injustices in this country are not something that are easily fixed, and that moving the needle will take a lot of work.
“We have all these gaps,” he said, talking about the lack of opportunities in communities of color. “We have a wealth gap in Boston. The average net worth of African Americans is less than a dozen dollars, compared to $225,000 for white Bostonians. That’s a massive economic disparity.”
Pelton also addressed the issue of defunding the police, which he explained is not eliminating it but reallocating some resources to social services that may be able to deescalate certain situations.
“I think about the young man who was murdered in Atlanta. What would have happened if rather than the police showing up there, someone from a social services agency showed up without a gun, without a weapon? There was nothing threatening about this young man and look where it ended.”
“I’m not sure what’s ahead of us, but I do know it’s going to take commitment and will to close all of those disparities that are part of structural racism in this country.”