Today marks the 57th anniversary of the historic March on Washington where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech.  While we certainly feel discouraged at the levels of police brutality, violence, racism, and injustice that is still rampant, today reminds us that real change can happen when we come together in a united way just as hundreds of thousands of people did 57 years ago. 

In the wake of watching Jacob Blake get shot in the back seven times in front of his children, the urgency of what is at stake unfortunately continues to play out repeatedly across our country.  It was so troubling to me to juxtapose that video with the one of a white teenager allowed to walk down the street with an AR-15.  Trevor Noah said it best, “The gun doesn’t matter as much as who’s holding the gun.  Because for some people, black skin is the most threatening weapon of all.” 

Now is the time for all of us -- every person, every organization -- to not only say “Black Lives Matter,” but to take meaningful action and come together for change. 

The multi-racial coalitions who continue to form peaceful protests, inspire me.  The athletes and sports teams across multiple leagues who used the power of boycott to ensure to stand against unconscionable police violence and systemic racism, inspire me.  The BLM signs I see every night when I walk my neighborhood and the murals of too many Black lives lost, inspire me.

Our Black and Brown communities are suffering the most through this pandemic through the health risks of being an essential worker, through the economic stress of not having a job, through looming evictions, and through the consistent trauma of watching people of color being killed in our streets.  Never has our community needed us more. 

So, I’d encourage you to ask yourself, “what more can I do?”  Educate yourself on systemic racism to gain a better understanding of racial inequities.  Make concrete commitments to be part of the change.  Educate yourself on the policies and laws that are on the books now and have a disproportionately negative impact on people of color.  As the Commitment March takes place in Washington, I urge you to take this moment to advocate for justice, for police accountability reform, support for the Census and to vote in the upcoming elections.

For leaders of organizations, I would ask you to look at your work through the lens of racial justice and do more.  As I write this, the NBA and NBPA are working to turn their sports arenas into large, socially distanced polling places throughout the country to create voting centers.  We all can and must do more. 

At United Way, we are taking this challenge and will do more to be a stronger advocate and ally for change.  One of the ways we are doing this is through the “Reimagine L.A. County” coalition and the support of Measure J, a countywide measure that will be on the November ballot.  Measure J would secure dedicated funds for a “care first, jail last” approach and invest in alternatives to incarceration such as youth development, investment in small and black-owned businesses, and support for affordable housing. 

In the midst of some dark times, I am inspired and moved by the power of real commitments to change.  I hope you will join us as we work to unleash the power and potential of people for a Just LA.

Dr. King captured it best and we must always remember, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”