By Marc Freedman
Across the country, young people continue to march against racial injustice and police violence, embodying what historian and sociologist Orlando Patterson calls “the noble rage of young Americans against…historic evil.”
And thousands of older people are joining them, even in the face of the pandemic.
Together, they are fighting to ensure that the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and too many others become the shock and spark this nation needs to say, “Enough.”
They are proclaiming that Black Lives Matter, that police violence is intolerable, that white supremacy must end. That the time for patience with systemic racism has passed.
At Encore.org, we are dedicated to this multiracial and multigenerational movement for justice.
We are determined to join with younger generations to fight not just for a better future but for a fundamentally different present. And to do it in ways that deeply appreciate, and fully support, the leadership of young people.
Older people can and must contribute their unique assets to this work for change. But we must also recognize that “a new generation is rising,” as Courtney Martin writes. “They possess the wholeheartedness and rage and moral clarity necessary to harness this moment and make something of it.”
We are inspired by their leadership and action, and are committed to joining with them.
Doing so means first acknowledging how much we have to learn. It means acknowledging that, in spite of powerful efforts by many, older generations have yet to bring about desperately needed changes. It means further recognizing the many ways that many of us have been complicit in perpetuating the problems we face today.
Older people have a critical role to play in rectifying this situation. We have the chance to help create the multiracial, multigenerational movement that can help change everything. That can help rid the nation of the oppression that has hung heavily over our history.
We must seize this opportunity to create a more just world together.
At Encore.org, we commit to:
- Doing all we can to bring the assets of experience to the racial justice movement.
- Diversifying our own encore community.
- Focusing on the intersections between age and racism in all aspects of our work.
- Using our resources, privilege and power to support leaders and communities of color.
- Building our cultural competence, diversity, equity and inclusion — and adding more younger people and people of color to our staff and board.
Throughout, we are inspired by the words of Congressman John Lewis, who describes being moved this week watching older people come forward “to march with their children and their grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and to walk with them.”
We pledge to do the same. To walk with younger generations on this journey for everlasting change, and to do so with humility and determination, every step of the way.
Marc Freedman is the founder and CEO of Encore.org.
Published: June 9, 2020