Tyrone Howard: This Year’s Juneteenth Marks a Movement More Than a Moment

Director of the Black Male Institute credits Black Lives Matter with beginnings of change.

Tyrone Howard, professor of education and director of the Black Male Institute at UCLA, was interviewed by KABC-TV on the particular significance of this year’s Juneteenth. 

“Juneteenth was all about freedom, about justice, about equality, about opportunity,” said Howard, who also directs the UCLA Pritzker Center for the Strengthening of Children and Families. “I think this speaks to the fact that we may be in more of a movement than a moment. People are unrelentless. They say they want change, we have to see something different.”

Professor Howard said that the call to reform policing has been, “a big part of this conversation,” and that measures to defund police forces should be seen more as allocating those dollars toward improved social and mental health services.

“It’s … repurposing funding where we put more money into mental health therapists, more money into social workers, more money into counselors who can help to deescalate these situations that can become deadly.”

Howard noted that the Black Lives Matter movement is seen and will be seen in the future as having been instrumental in advancing greater equity and justice for Black Americans since the 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, an off-duty police officer.

“…It’s not just about police brutality,” said Professor Howard. “It was about violence, Black empowerment, political empowerment. The history books will show that as we see more reform in our country, that BLM was a critical organization in this process.”

Howard said that some change has already been made, but that progress will truly be measured by what happens in the long run.

“We’re seeing some of the tangible outcomes right now… when police reform is happening, when reallocation of funding is taking place, when schools are rethinking the way that their curriculum is created,” he said. “I saw earlier… that the Los Angeles Lakers have hired someone to focus on racial justice and equality.

“I think we’re going to see more Black ownership, more participation in the political process. But we can’t let this moment stop. It has to be persistent, it has to be ongoing, and we have to think about what this looks like a year from now, three years from now, five years from now.”

To hear Professor Howard’s interview on KABC, visit this link.

Howard, who will take the helm at the UCLA Center for the Transformation of Schools as faculty director on July 1, was also featured in a commentary in The Wall Street Journal on, “The Power of Personal Agency,” speaking on the need to help young people of all races to envision what is possible by countering the “pathological depiction of and belief in the inferiority of Black people, culture, and history,” and the need to “identify and speak about Black excellence.”

To read, “The Power of Personal Agency,” visit The Wall Street Journal website.