Researchers: Committed leadership needed to bridge racial divide

Harvard researchers say work must continue after protesters go home

Brian Kelly
May 31, 2020 - 2:50 pm
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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - It will take strong leadership, and a long-term commitment, to end the institutional racism that leads to incidents like the death of George Floyd. That's according to a researcher who looked at leadership in the wake of the 2014 Ferguson protests.

Lisa Flynn of  Harvard's National Preparedness Leadership Initiative, says you can't rely on law enforcement and the justice system to make the necessary changes. She says it has to come from the top, with leaders meeting with those who have been on the ground.  "We need our mayors and governors to be counselors, our legislative leaders to be really bought in for the long run and be visible and engaged and actively listening and responding with empathy to those who are out there protesting," she says.

Related: Police say 7 officers injured; Bricks thrown, fireworks shot at police after protest in Ferguson
Related: Ferguson Brewery, other businesses clean up mess after 2 nights of civil unrest

Flynn says one problem is that once the protestors go home, many leaders carry on as if nothing happened. The Initiative's Associate Director, Eric McNulty says that will never solve the problem. "What we need from leaders is an acknowledgement of the problem, a visibility and their commitment to solving the problem and then the active regular activity to build the kind of structures to put into place the policies and funding initiatives that are going to help address it."

McNulty says the effort has to involve the entire community, every day. "Across business, community leaders, citizens, law enforcement and elsewhere has to be part of the daily routine. Building relationships every single day."

Flynn and McNulty were guests on Total Information AM Sunday. You can hear the entire interview here. 

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