As Protests Continue, Scholars Weigh In on How We Reached This Point In America

"What got us here is what brought us here," Dr. George Keaton Jr. said

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Watching people protesting around North Texas and the country, it's easy for Dr. George Keaton, Jr., Executive Director of Remembering Black Dallas to know why it's happening.

He said social media and online engagement has energized young people.

"Not only that, television movies have produced documentaries and movies that reflected the past,” Keaton said. “I think the younger people now have been brought aware of that, black and white, and so they've really had enough."

But he added what brought us to this point is not a new issue.

"It's really systemic from the very beginning of us coming to this country," Keaton said.

There is another perspective as well.

"The reality is that we have always been here,” Abundant Life AME Church Dallas lead pastor Michael W. Waters said. “The very origins of policing in America begin with the slave patrols in the early 1700's."

Waters said this started with slavery.  But beyond that, both men agree Jim Crow Laws and segregations continued to fuel the need to fight for social justice.

"With that said they're still around and if the laws aren't still around, the mentality and the practice is still around and the younger generations they've had enough," Keaton said.

"Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his I have a dream speech talk about the fact that black people would not be truly free until we dealt with the unspeakable horrors of police brutality," Waters said.

Waters said even the entertainment industry has tried to shed light on what has happened at the hands of police.

"The early movement of the hip hop generation and hip hop culture there were a number of artist that spoke out explicitly about the pains of police brutality," Waters said.

Keaton said the answer to move from here to a place of real change is by changing laws.

"Have discussions with lawmakers, with attorneys, with people who can change the laws on the books or make the laws on the books we have now better," Keaton said.

Waters agreed reforming police is the answer.

"Marches, protest, speeches, kneeling, yes that's important,” Waters said. “But it's not until we have policy change that we can truly change the dynamics of policing in America."

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