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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Historian: Ferguson Exposes Need For New Leadership

Demonstrators protest the killing of teenager Michael Brown on August 12, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown was shot and killed by a police officer on Saturday in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. Ferguson has experienced two days of violent protests since the killing but, tonight's protest was peaceful. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Demonstrators protest the killing of teenager Michael Brown on August 12, 2014, in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown was shot and killed by a police officer on Saturday in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. Ferguson has experienced two days of violent protests since the killing but, tonight’s protest was peaceful. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Historian Peniel Joseph says the big difference between today and the heyday of the civil rights movement in the 1960s is that there are no unifying leaders, especially no leaders who can appeal to the young.

Joseph writes that it’s part of the confusion of our age — with an African-American president and first lady and attorney general, there is a ready narrative of America moving past racism. Joseph says that at the same time, there is persistent, institutional inequality, that the young people in Ferguson know from their own life.

Joseph told Here & Now’s Meghna Chakrabarti that with those competing realities, it’s hard to have the kinds of clear goals that united a lot of Americans to action in the civil rights era. He added that the need of the moment is a grassroots movement that can compel the president and lawmakers to act.

Recent Pieces By Peniel Joseph

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