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Protest Plus Policy equals Progress!

Last week I received a huge honor, the National Urban League’s “Living Legend” award. The following week, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, and this weekend, we commemorated the shooting death of Michael Brown a year later.

All three events reminded me that right never goes out of style. There was a time when people thought organizations like the National Urban League were no longer needed or no longer relevant.

But as the old people used to say, “Keep waking up!” (The kids have adapted that to “Stay woke.”)

Young people today are experiencing things they used to just read about in the history books. Take a look at current headlines and you can’t tell whether it’s 1915, 1955 or 2015.  This means The National Urban League and the NAACP are as relevant or more relevant than they’ve ever been.

If Urban League founder Whitney M. Young were still alive, he would be just as busy as he ever was. His efforts to bring integration to all segments of our society were valiant. But integration cannot equal complacency. Most of the problems in our major cities stem from the combination of poor education and bad policing.

Fight The Power!  was originally published on

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