A Change Is Going to Come

 

George Floyd’s murder will spark change.

I had (a socially distant) lunch last week with a small group of special men.

We met to discuss the day’s events particularly the murder of George Floyd and America’s continuing struggle with racism.
We talked about policing reform, our fears for our children and our hopes that this time things will be different. Oh how I hope it’s true.
I sat a few feet away from Anquan Boldin, a former NFL superstar, and a founder of the Players Coalition which was formed to advocate for social justice. Mr. Boldin’s cousin, Corey Jones, was murdered on a Florida highway by a police officer.
Football seemed small after that tragedy so Boldin decided to devote the rest of his life to the cause of equal justice.
He’s a serious man on a serious mission. I admire him.
A few feet away from Anquan sat Abram Elam, another former NFL player. Mr. Elam has lost three siblings to gunfire. Think about that for a moment. Three siblings. You might say he yearns for change.
Across from me sat Corey Gauff,  tennis star’s Coco’s father and coach.
I first met Corey when he was a standout high school basketball player for Boca High.
He’s grown into a smart and serious man, someone who wants better for his kids and the next generation.
Also at the table were my
dear friend, Michael Coleman, a former Delray police captain, Jameal Stewart, who grew up on the streets of Delray, Atlantic High football  coach TJ Jackson, attorney Lee Cohen, youth mentor C. Ron Allen and a few others all with their own stories of tragedy and hope.

It was a powerful afternoon: a group of men sharing ideas, experiences and strategies.
I felt privileged to be there as a former mayor whose community was visited by violence; the shooting death of Jerrod Miller by an off-duty police officer who was working a security detail at a school dance.
Truth be told, while I learned a lot from the experience, I felt humbled by my company.
Their experiences, their losses, their time spent on the streets and with youth far, far, far exceed what I’ve seen.
So I listened.
And what I saw was a group of men, most of them fathers, determined  that the future will be better than the present and the past.
They want and will demand police reforms: from getting rid of qualified immunity to ensuring that standards for becoming police officers are raised and made uniform nationwide.
It was a far ranging discussion. I mostly listened and was deeply impressed.
It’s one of those afternoons you don’t recover from. You listen to these men and you change—for the better.
I think this is the moment. The moment those of us who desperately want a more perfect union have been longing for.
I think we will see needed reforms. I think we will see positive change.
And I think it will happen because of leaders like Anquan Boldin and the others I was privileged to meet.
I’m going to see them again today. We are going to talk and more importantly act.
It’s time.
In fact, it’s long overdue.

Comments

  1. Love this. Please keep sharing.

  2. Stacey A Winick says:

    This is so needed Jeff. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Lucy Larner says:

    Eloquent, as always👏

  4. Adrienne C says:

    How eloquent and humbling. Thank you for sharing such a valuable experience – a much needed quality beginning.

  5. Jeff thank you for this article. So humbling. We need change and we need it now. I’m so many ways

  6. Nancy Chanin says:

    Awesome! Please let me know if there’s anything I can do to help. Also, and I’ve talked to others about this, it would be great if we could start having community conversations.

    • Jeff Perlman says:

      Thanks Nancy. Community conversations are important and long overdue.

    • Good to see Jameal and Michael Coleman still are so concerned about our community and have a forum to share. I met them in Leadership Delray and they each have a readiness about themselves which come across as kind and generous. Please send them my regards.

  7. Frances Bourque says:

    You are the Master Listener and a Consummate Communicator! The new chapters will be told by the direction gained in such encounters. This time our story must have a better ending! Please keep the round tables open! There are no Heads of Table! King Arthur had it right all along!

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