From the Boston Globe, an op-ed by SJP friends David Harris and Johanna Wald (Managing Director and Director of Strategic Planning and Development of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice) :
On June 5, 1947, Secretary of State George Marshall spoke to a crowd of 15,000 at Harvard University’s commencement. In a surprise announcement, he unveiled plans for the United States government to rebuild a Europe devastated by almost a decade of war. In simple straightforward language, he declared that this massive effort — which came to be known as the Marshall Plan — “is directed not against any country or doctrine but against hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos . . .” The Marshall Plan is largely credited with restoring confidence and hope along with local economies in Europe. It remains a testament to the power of American fortitude and ingenuity.
Sixty-eight years later, Marshall’s words carry a surprisingly potent punch — albeit in response to a very different kind of “war”; one that we have been waging for decades against our own communities of color. During the past year, the curtain has been pulled back, revealing the maze of punishment, fear, and surveillance that traps so many individuals, particularly young men, living in these communities. They attend underresourced schools that expect them to fail and drop out. Police function as a hostile, occupying force, frequently hunting them down, and subjecting them to humiliating arrests and stop-and-frisk practices. They even lack recreational outlets. Recently one former Baltimore resident wrote of returning to his childhood neighborhood to find his old playing fields “overgrown with weeds or barred with locked gates . . . . The city had closed the pools, removed the basketball goals, and . . . closed 20 recreation centers.
Read entire op-ed here.