Looking back at America’s history of protests, one theme comes clear. When our country experiences mass protest, it always means there is something wrong in America.
Something wrong that has been ignored. Something wrong many did not understand. Something wrong that worked for the powerful, but not for the marginalized.
Our history also tells us we can correct those wrongs.
We changed our child labor laws, we expanded the right to vote, we passed the Civil Rights Act. And we can correct the injustices Black people experience on the streets, in the courtroom and in sentencing. We can correct standards for use of force and actively work to eliminate the disparities we see in charging, legal representation, and sentencing.
Ignoring these injustices will not work any longer in America, because Black minds, bodies, voices and lives matter.
At Martha O’Bryan Center, we focus on expanding the opportunity landscape for people on the fringe edge of society. Our work creates and builds economic upward mobility, educational attainment, and greater family wellbeing. But even as comprehensive as we are, it is not enough if families we serve are impacted by racism in larger systems.
As an organization, we must double our efforts to create a more just world. Our dialogue and action must advocate for change where we know bias and unevenly applied standards work to disadvantage the families we serve. We stand with communities of color and all people who demand an end to police violence and disparities seen in systems from health care to corrections.
We believe in change. We believe our police can change. We believe people who don’t see the problem can change. We believe we must change and be an America where Black and all marginalized people live free of fear in a fair and just society.
When the door of change needs to be pried open, protest is the tool. After the protest, comes the hard work of creating more fairness, more justice. But we can do this hard work before us. This country has risen to the challenge of greater expectations and expanded freedoms before.
We pray for the families of George Floyd and all others whose lives have been taken unjustly. We pray for law enforcement, our local and national leadership and each other. But while we pray, we also work.
President & CEO