‘You’re not the first, you’re not the last’: Elder shares insight and advice on recent protests

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Thousands across the country have spent the last week protesting the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died in Minneapolis.

“It breaks my heart, but it also frustrates me if I’m being completely honest,” said 27-year-old Joseph Shepard, director of multicultural engagement and campus life at Newman University.

Terrill Florence, with the Council of Elders for the City of Wichita and Sedgwick County, says these protests stem beyond George Floyd.

“For every action, there is equal reaction. So, what you’re seeing now is the reaction of years of the action, negative action taken to our community.”

Cries for justice and equality are happening. Shepard is encouraging people to not be afraid to talk about race.

“I am a black man, and I need you to see me for who I am. And when you tell me you don’t see color, you are perpetuating this system that exists that has hindered African American and other people of color from moving forward for years.”

“We have tried every method that everybody has told us on what we should do on how to achieve our goal and I’m almost 70 years old and ask me to have we achieved them? No, have we made some improvements? Yes, but to the scale that we should have? No,” said Elder Florence.

Having lived through the civil rights movement, Florence has a piece of advice to the younger generation.

“Identify your goals and you work toward achieving it so stay focused because there will be a lot of distractions coming from all over to get you caught up in something that is totally alienated from your original line of thought.”

Shepard is reminding others to ensure you take care of yourself.

“I can’t pour from an empty glass and so making sure I know what conversations to engage in because the truth of the matter is some people long before now have shown us where they stood on issues like this,” he said.

Elder Florence encourages those taking a stand to learn from their elders.

“You’re not the first, you’re not the last. You prepare the path for the generations coming after you, as we tried to prepare the paths for you.”

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