Like many of you, I was shocked to see the horrific death of Mr. George Floyd by a group of police officers. I feel compelled to speak out for the thousands of minority Club members the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Dallas serves. The injustices we continue to see must stop.

As I put my feelings into perspective, I am reminded once again of a message I saw displayed as I exited the Holocaust Museum. It was written by a German Lutheran Pastor Martin Niemoller:

First, they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist

Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist

Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist

Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew

Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me

Now, the message speaks out for Mr. Floyd and the countless number of minorities killed by unlawful policemen.

What we are experiencing today is very personal for me. At the age of 13, I experienced racism at the height of the Civil Rights movement. I, along with two cousins, was invited to attend a Baptist Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. On the journey home, we stopped for gas in Mississippi and asked to use the restroom. We were denied and were aggressively escorted out of the service station by an attendant pointing a gun at our pastor.

That experience came back like a bad dream after seeing the death of Mr. Floyd. Although many terrible experiences followed throughout desegregation, I remain hopeful for a new day when systemic racism will be erased from American culture. I hope like-minded citizens will join the efforts to seek justice and equality for all, regardless of race and other protected classes.

I am so grateful to have the opportunity to be part of creating opportunities for Dallas minority youth with the amazing programs of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Dallas. My dedicated staff has demonstrated the importance of building confidence in our kids. We have to continue to inspire them to pursue their dreams. We tell them that most police officers are committed to their safety and want the best for them, but they are obviously discouraged by so many negative things they see in the media and in their own lives.

It is time that we all speak out. While conversations are necessary, taking action should take priority in fighting this epidemic that has gone uncured for so long.

My challenge to all communities: take a stand to speak out for justice beginning in your homes, in your communities, in your places of worship, and in your place of employment. Take time to find the “will to want” and find an understanding of people that are different from you. Trust me, it is a liberating feeling when you find out how much you may have in common with each other.

I am confident that the new movement of our young adults will be the answer to racism. They will speak out and embrace the notion that change will only happen when we join in one voice.

I leave you with something that can serve as a call for action…. See it. Say it. Be it!

Remaining hopeful,

Charles English, President & CEO
Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Dallas