This month, Hearst Television is celebrating Black history by having courageous conversations. The fight for civil rights and justice goes back generations and has looked different each decade. We’re speaking with community leaders, elders – those who have lived through victories and troubled times, to talk about their experiences, and compare them with what we still struggle with today.In the summer of 2020, following the police killing of George Floyd, the country saw demand for social justice reform.It was not the first time and, according to civil rights activist Howard Fuller, it will not be the last. The 80-year-old former Milwaukee Public Schools superintendent and retired Marquette University professor of education was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, but grew up in Milwaukee. Fuller is known nationwide for his work as an organizer in Durham, North Carolina. He left Milwaukee during the 1960s and began his work to fight for the rights of African Americans in North Carolina. In 1965, Fuller took a job as director of community development with Operation Breakthrough, an anti-poverty nonprofit that places an emphasis on helping marginalized communities to empower themselves. His role there helped expand his influence on the civil rights movement of the South.Fuller began his activism in the 1960s, but it didn’t stop at the civil rights movement.He said he fights every day for people who look like him and draws comparisons of the civil disobedience of years past and the social justice protests of 2020.”My perspective isn’t, you know, ‘Well it was nice growing up,’ or, ‘It was nice being in that period,'” Fuller said in an interview with sister station WISN. “It was how do you fight against the same type of racist oppression that exists today, how do you fight against it back then? We marched, we had demands, some of the tactics were the same, and frankly, some of the issues were the same. I mean we’re still talking about healthcare, we’re still talking about housing, we’re still talking about police killing us.” Fuller returned to Milwaukee in the late 1970s. In 1981, not too long after his return, a Black man named Earnest Lacey was killed in police custody. “Earnest Lacey was killed in the same way George Floyd was killed in Minnesota. A cop put his knee in Earnie Lacey’s neck and killed him,” Fuller said. “So when the George Floyd situation happened, for me, it was just the repeat of history.”He said watching the video of Floyd’s death unfortunately was far from shocking. When asked what was going through his mind, as he watched, Fuller replied, “That you would be a fool not to think it would happen again.” Floyd’s death was a spark.”For young people, they’re like, ‘Oh my God,’ which should be the reaction,” he said. “But because you haven’t lived long enough to continue to see it over and over again, but, in reality, it’s the continuation of the oppression of a people that was continued ever since they brought us here.” For Fuller, when looking toward the nation reaching change in justice, equality and equity, he is critical.”I don’t think it’s possible,” Fuller said. “I think it’s possible to have movements of, ‘Oh it’s going to be different,’ but unless America is going to change at the very core, you’re going to have to explain to me why I should think things are going to be radically different.” Though critical, he stressed the importance of younger generations continuing to fight for change. “If you go back and look at the history of Milwaukee, there was a whole week or two with conversations about race,” Fuller said. “Let’s be clear, this is not the first time nor the last time we’ll have conversations about race. Unless we address the lack of Black power in this society, you will be talking about this when you are as old as me. Although I don’t see the potential for radical change in this country, it’s necessary for me to continue to fight for it, because not to fight is to accept it.”

This month, Hearst Television is celebrating Black history by having courageous conversations. The fight for civil rights and justice goes back generations and has looked different each decade. We’re speaking with community leaders, elders – those who have lived through victories and troubled times, to talk about their experiences, and compare them with what we still struggle with today.

In the summer of 2020, following the police killing of George Floyd, the country saw demand for social justice reform.

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It was not the first time and, according to civil rights activist Howard Fuller, it will not be the last.

The 80-year-old former Milwaukee Public Schools superintendent and retired Marquette University professor of education was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, but grew up in Milwaukee.

Fuller is known nationwide for his work as an organizer in Durham, North Carolina.

He left Milwaukee during the 1960s and began his work to fight for the rights of African Americans in North Carolina.

In 1965, Fuller took a job as director of community development with Operation Breakthrough, an anti-poverty nonprofit that places an emphasis on helping marginalized communities to empower themselves.

His role there helped expand his influence on the civil rights movement of the South.

Fuller began his activism in the 1960s, but it didn’t stop at the civil rights movement.

He said he fights every day for people who look like him and draws comparisons of the civil disobedience of years past and the social justice protests of 2020.

“My perspective isn’t, you know, ‘Well it was nice growing up,’ or, ‘It was nice being in that period,'” Fuller said in an interview with sister station WISN. “It was how do you fight against the same type of racist oppression that exists today, how do you fight against it back then? We marched, we had demands, some of the tactics were the same, and frankly, some of the issues were the same. I mean we’re still talking about healthcare, we’re still talking about housing, we’re still talking about police killing us.”

Fuller returned to Milwaukee in the late 1970s.

In 1981, not too long after his return, a Black man named Earnest Lacey was killed in police custody.

“Earnest Lacey was killed in the same way George Floyd was killed in Minnesota. A cop put his knee in Earnie Lacey’s neck and killed him,” Fuller said. “So when the George Floyd situation happened, for me, it was just the repeat of history.”

He said watching the video of Floyd’s death unfortunately was far from shocking.

When asked what was going through his mind, as he watched, Fuller replied, “That you would be a fool not to think it would happen again.”

Floyd’s death was a spark.

“For young people, they’re like, ‘Oh my God,’ which should be the reaction,” he said. “But because you haven’t lived long enough to continue to see it over and over again, but, in reality, it’s the continuation of the oppression of a people that was continued ever since they brought us here.”

For Fuller, when looking toward the nation reaching change in justice, equality and equity, he is critical.

“I don’t think it’s possible,” Fuller said. “I think it’s possible to have movements of, ‘Oh it’s going to be different,’ but unless America is going to change at the very core, you’re going to have to explain to me why I should think things are going to be radically different.”

Though critical, he stressed the importance of younger generations continuing to fight for change.

“If you go back and look at the history of Milwaukee, there was a whole week or two with conversations about race,” Fuller said. “Let’s be clear, this is not the first time nor the last time we’ll have conversations about race. Unless we address the lack of Black power in this society, you will be talking about this when you are as old as me. Although I don’t see the potential for radical change in this country, it’s necessary for me to continue to fight for it, because not to fight is to accept it.”

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