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Black community leaders, organizations collaborate to uplift next generation

Posted at 10:38 PM, Jun 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-28 11:19:15-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — In an effort to showcase voices of young people working to make a difference in the Black community, multiple leaders and community activists came together for an open conversation about the next steps for social justice.

As they sang the Black National Anthem, young change-makers gathered at The Venue in the Highlander building to have their voices heard.

"We say Black Lives Matter, we know that all lives matter ... it's just we need help because a lot of our lives are in danger," Marissa Mitchell said.

It was a powerful outcry from Marissa Mitchell, sister of James Scurlock, the 22-year-old Black man killed by Jacob Gardner last month.

"I'm here just to figure out what to do next," an attendee said. "I'm 23-years-old and I got this passion so I'm here for you guys to kind of lead me in the direction to start speaking my voice."

Like many young people, they're frustrated and ready to not only see change, but make it happen.

It's why Tamika Mease, organizer of the Woman to Woman organization, collaborated with the Black Agenda Alliance, Urban League Young Professionals, Omaha United for Youth and NONA- North Omaha Neighborhood Alliance for what she says are the first of many listening sessions.

The listening session was a safe space for young people to speak on the many issues the Black community faces.

"To me you know they're like revolutionists," Mease said. "I just think we have to have the leaders to match up with our newer generation to empower them, to speak up with their ideas with these things that they have in mind to ignite that change, and to see the change happen."

Community activists and leaders including Terrell McKinney, JaKeen Fox, Lt. Sherie Thomas, Isaiah Calloway, and Shawntal Mallory led the panel discussion.

Gerald Kuhn and Precious McKesson moderated the discussion.

Fox, who's been leading protests against County Attorney Don Kleine for not charging Jacob Gardner in James Scurlock's death, shared the importance of having set goals before protesting.

"I think clear messaging is really important because it allows you to really bring in people and tap people in," Fox said. "Then you also have to make sure that you're appreciating the people that are doing the work."

Lt. Thomas stressed the importance of understanding laws. She says change must come from within, and she wants to see more Black women and men in law enforcement.

"I'm going to continue to stay and continue to fight the fight and try to see what we can do to make it better," Thomas said.

Mease says the conversation doesn't end today.

"We're going to take this back to the table, we're going figure out what our next steps are," she said. "And we're going to bring everyone involved to the table to make that change happen and to see what we need to do going forward, so this is just a phase one of many."