Strong leaders needed to address institutional racism, say experts

In the wake of the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis, and the mass protests that followed, it will take strong leaders to help change longstanding institutional racism in the U.S., according to two experts from the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative (NPLI), a joint program of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Harvard Kennedy School Center for Public Leadership.

Eric McNulty, associate director of NPLI and an instructor at the Harvard Chan School, and Lisa Flynn spoke about leadership in times of crisis on the Total Information AM Weekend radio show on station KMOX in St. Louis on May 31, 2020.

“The leadership that is necessary to change the complex and pervasive issues that are racism, and social determinants of health, socioeconomic issues, and the history of policing—that has to come from the top,” Flynn said. Mayors, governors, city councilors, and legislative leaders “need to start working on these complex issues with the people who have been on the ground doing the work, studying, and coming up with the recommendations,” she said.

Said McNulty, “The things that we’re seeing right now didn’t just pop up out of nowhere. There are some systemic long-term problems that need to be addressed, and they need to be addressed at a systemic level.”

Both McNulty and Flynn emphasized the importance of continuing the difficult work of addressing systemic racism over the long term, even after protests have ended and people’s motivation for demanding change may have faded.

Read the KMOX article: Researchers: Committed leadership needed to bridge racial divide

Listen to the KMOX interview: Leadership in Times of Crisis