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'The change is going to come': Saint John community activist finds hope in the younger generation
SAINT JOHN -- Community activist Ralph Thomas has been fighting racism for eight decades.
The 82-year-old Saint John, N.B., man says the images coming out of the United States over the past week have been difficult to watch.
“A man's life is taken right before your eyes, a black man's life was taken, and with other folks standing around watching,” says Thomas, in reference to the bystander video that captured a white police officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, a 46-year-old unarmed black man, for more than eight minutes in Minneapolis.
Thomas says the terrible video of Floyd's final moments will take its place alongside other iconic images from the civil rights era, like the old film of beatings suffered by marchers in the 1950s and 1960s American south.
Thomas is old enough to remember those years. At the time, he was a young professional boxer, known as Tiger Thomas.
Now, his fight is against racism. Thomas spends his time teaching black history to young people and it’s in those young people that he finds reason for hope.
“If you look at those crowds, you will see that there is a big mixture in those crowds. There's white people, there's black people, there's other folks there that have joined, in this case, they're joined for justice,” says Thomas.
“Racism and discrimination is going to be snuffed out by our youth.”
In the meantime, he says there's still work to do.
“If we keep doing what is right, the change is going to come. Like the song says, the time for change is near.”