This past week was full of rich, insightful, and engaging conversations with five different leaders of our communities. They each brought unique experiences, backgrounds, and perspectives to the issues of policing reforms, social justice, and effective engagement. We explored not only the current unrest of our society, causes and contributing factors, but also solutions. I was honored to have such esteemed guests on my platform and to provide that opportunity to amplify the voices of those who can bring much needed clarity and wisdom to the chaos of our times.
The first guest, Bishop Hollister Curtis Douglas, Senior Pastor of Dabar Bethlehem Cathedral in Queens Village, NY, highlighted the proper role of police as servants of the community. Bishop Douglas pressed in on the need for the public to insist loudly – cry aloud– for the guilty police officers to be held accountable for breaching that role and betraying public trust. Bishop Douglas encouraged everyone to “find their lane” in the struggle for policing reforms and to do their part. Whether you can protest, march, pray, sign petitions, join community groups, make phone calls, advance legislation, have conversations, etc.,it is all important!
Our second guest, Dr. Danielle Brown discussed how we can bridge the gap between the zealous younger generation and the experienced older generation. She challenged us with deep questions and provoked us to find creative solutions to unite the energy and strength of the young withthe experience and wisdom of the elders. Dr. Brown explored the mindset shifts that must occur in order to engage and connect the generations, so that the goals of social change can be achieved.
My own daughter, Destiny Hilliard-Thomas continued that thread of engaging the generations. As a member of a younger generation herself, she spoke from experience of the paradigm shift that the youth -led movement is creating. The design of top-down leadership is changing and the role of grassroots, ground-up engagement is growing. Sister Hilliard-Thomas encouraged us all to understand the changes of the times, and the cultural shifts that they represent so that we can accurately and effectively move forward.
Dr. Deforest “Buster” Soaries, our fourth guest, brought a unique perspective on the civil unrest of 2020, as someone who actively engaged in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s. He discussed the similarities and parallels of the strategies of the 60s, and how building upon those strategies can help to effectively achieve justice today. Dr. Soaries gave several insightful examples of what effective social engagement might look like, while addressing the concerns of leadership and vision during current social climate.
Finally, the week rounded off with Bishop David Copeland, Pope Cope, who shared a historical perspective of the foundational issues that lead to the conditions we are seeing in our world today. Bishop Copeland discussed the findings of his doctoral work on the lineage of slave patrols which has come down through modern-day policing. Bishop Copeland reminded us that the mindset of patrolling and capturing, rather than serving and protecting, is one that must be examined and repudiated, if we are going to see any changes in police and community relations.
Three of these speakers– Dr. Brown, Dr. Soaries, andBishop Douglas–will also be broadcast on Say Yes Now, the new podcast. If you would like to hear and learn from the engaging concepts and creative solutions of our esteemed guests, be sure to subscribe to Say Yes Now here: https://apple.co/2D3X178