Local Editorials

Our View: New generation of civic leaders has emerged

Andre Allen Jr., from DeKalb, leads a chant Monday during a protest against police brutality at Memorial Park in DeKalb.
Andre Allen Jr., from DeKalb, leads a chant Monday during a protest against police brutality at Memorial Park in DeKalb.

As the downtown Chicago protests continued, protesters were beaten and arrested, reporters were beaten and clubs, tear gas and mace were used against them on Michigan Avenue.

Michigan Avenue was blocked in front of Grant Park. A 1,000-person march later was allowed but unrest continued.

That was all reported on the cover of the Aug. 29, 1968 DeKalb Daily Chronicle.

But much of it could have been true last week as well.

That was a time of civil unrest, of political disagreements and ultimately of progress, because out of that time a new civic and political consciousness arrived.

We advanced and new leaders emerged.

During the past two weeks, similar scenes played out in Chicago and other large cities throughout the country. And in areas from DeKalb to Crystal Lake to Geneva and Streator, peaceful protests have shown new leaders emerge.

We seem to be on the cusp of positive change in race relations and how we treat our fellow Americans.

And leaders have emerged, from all races. People who maybe didn't see themselves as leaders before but have now thrust themselves into those roles.

These are weighty times and many young leaders – high schoolers, recent grads or college students – have led protests in the interest of making life better while giving an equal playing field for themselves and their neighbors through the Black Lives Matter movement.

Kirkland's Tiana McAllister (18 years old), DeKalb's Andre Allen, Jr. (21) and Andre Ventress (16), Crystal Lake's Symon Pallasigue (20) and Charlie Salerno (19), DeKalb's Trinity Alexander (20), McHenry's Lillian Purich (23) and La Salle's Paiziah Chounard are just some of the names.

We applaud them and hope that, into the future as race relations change because of their work, the new generation of civic leaders can continue to push us forward.

Like any time in our country's history, it would be easy to push aside the concerns of young adults.

Their interests, viewpoints and music are different. They don't have the world experience. They're just kids.

But the reality is that it's their world to take over and we should instead be encouraging them to do it in the right ways, like they are encouraging those in positions now to alter how they act.

Here's hoping that 2020 marks the year that the younger generation truly gets involved, gets busy making changes and takes their new, more important role as our future civic leaders as seriously as they have in the past month.

If they do, we will be in good hands.

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