Barack Obama gives some advice to young activists: “Be clear and strategic”


Former President Obama has joined filmmaker Ava DuVernay.

Ava DuVernay and Barack Obama in a book club discussion. (Los Angeles Times)

According to former President Obama Police reform It starts with rethinking the role of law enforcement agencies.

“What does it mean to be safe in the community?” Obama asked in a conversation at the Los Angeles Times book club on Wednesday. Control and maintain barriers and boundaries, rather than actually servicing those communities. “

Filmmakers join the 44th President Ava DuVernay (“Selma”, “Wrinkles of Time”) For a story about his best-selling memoir “The Promised Land”. It tells the story of Obama’s journey from a young man with political aspirations to the moment of the watershed of his first presidential term.

The conversation was recorded 5 days ago on April 15th Derek Chauvin He was found guilty of murder at the death of George Floyd. But that was a timely statement.

Former POTUS admitted that “I’m no longer a young start-up” when discussing police reform and a wide range of issues of activism and racial justice, but as a person who “ran the race stage” , There was still valuable advice. pay attention to.

Obama reminded viewers that most criminal and law enforcement issues are determined at the state and local levels rather than at the federal level. He said it was important to vote for the local race and to be “clear and strategic” about who was the state or local lawyer.

“They are those who are trying to decide whether to prosecute police officers with excessive force,” Obama said. “Who writes the collective bargaining agreement between the police union and its municipality? Because it often determines what the rules are, in terms of training, accountability, etc.”

This advice builds on the work of its predecessor, based on a passage in the “Promised Land” that Rev. Otis Moss Jr. described himself and other civil rights veterans as the “Moses Generation.” This is the answer to the question from Duberney about. This is in contrast to Obama’s “Joshua Generation.”

“You can probably learn from some of our mistakes, but in the end it’s up to you to build on what we’ve done with the help of God,” Moss said. Told him.

Obama’s second advice to activists? Assemble the problem in a way that appeals to the broader coalition.

“If you’re going to radically change how police work in this country in most jurisdictions that are neither black nor brown, you need to convince people who haven’t read or intend to read James Baldwin. “He says. Said. “We need to convince them that this is the right thing to do.”

During the event, two local high school students were invited to ask questions to former POTUS.

Tarik Stone from Inglewood High School.

Tarik Stone from Inglewood High School. (Los Angeles Times)

Tarik Stone, a senior at Inglewood High School, wanted to know what was the most important step in filling the rift that divides the country.

“I don’t think you’re going to completely overcome our differences,” Obama began. “We are big, complex, noisy, multi-ethnic, multi-ethnic, multi-religious democracy, and that’s part of what makes America stand out as this wonderful experiment.”

But he made some suggestions. “One of the things we can do is to see each other’s humanity, that we all deserve dignity and respect, and that we can all follow a specific process to resolve those differences. It’s about working to understand. “

He also emphasized the value of actively listening to and learning about people’s history. He used the technology that helped him win the Democratic rally in Iowa, a “white country state” when he ran for his first presidential term, “few people looked like me.” recognized.

Diverse groups of young organizers — black, Jews, Asians — planted themselves in a small town in Iowa and asked the inhabitants what was important to them, what problems frustrated them, and how the government disappointed them. I did.

That listening created bonds and trust, he recalled, “and it’s based on that trust that people started listening to what I was standing on.”

Grace Lee, a third year student at Buena Park High School.

Grace Lee, a third year student at Buena Park High School. (Los Angeles Times)

Grace Lee, a junior at Buena Park High School, asked, “What is one of the things you want to remember?”

Obama said it was still difficult to say. “Some of what we have to do is sit and look, so it’s hard to get the kind of distance we need for perspective. How does this work? And I’m even more You may not know it for 20 years. “

But if he has to choose, he wants to model the message of inclusion and show how to tackle an imminent problem without scandals or self-interest.

And he is proud to encourage young activists to tackle issues such as climate change and institutional racism.

“It feels pretty good when I see people picking up batons and doing great work and thinking,’OK, maybe I’ve caused some of them.'”

This story was originally Los Angeles Times..