THE BLOG
11/29/2014 05:44 pm ET Updated Jan 29, 2015

Ferguson: The Torch Has Been Passed

Eyewitness video of one group of protesters in New York City from "WeAreChange"

Amidst all the talking heads offering CNN their expert analysis of the second night of protests in Ferguson and beyond, one young voice spoke with a passion and clarity the politicians and pundits could not match.

It was the voice of a young black man from Staten Island who joined the New York protests. He vowed to walk the entire route, not knowing or caring how far he would have to walk or how he'd get back home when it ended.

I don't know his name and I don't have a clip to prove how articulate and astute that young man was. I can say that he was a sterling symbol of both the young lives we've lost and those we may continue to lose if we don't find a way to address America's racial issues once and for all.

He bore witness to the frightening encounters he had already faced with a level self-composure that made my heart glad. I was even prouder to see the "multiracial" procession passing behind him with their hands up in solidarity.

I was sorry when CNN went back to all the usual analysts we've come to know so well. Not because they were wrong or any less articulate. But because those of us who are old enough to have marched with MLK, or who were born not too long after that era, may not know what that young man knows about the world we live in now. Or the future he faces.

Yes, I have had my own scary experiences with the police, as a black woman. Yes, my ancestors in the South had experiences far more terrifying than any young person today will ever face -- I hope.

But this week, the torch was passed, grudgingly perhaps, to a new generation whose experiences and voices are new to many of us. For those who wondered if this moment would ever come...it's here.

And though the old guard should be respected, it may be time for us to stand back and let our youth take center stage as often as possible. The embarrassing commentary offered by so many of our veteran TV news anchors and other journalists is proof that many of us older folks just don't "get it."

I'm not saying that the old freedom songs and chants -- and ideas -- aren't relevant today. But but when we consider that the historic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965 was triggered by the shooting of a Black man by a white policeman, it's clear we still haven't "overcome," black president notwithstanding.

There are new songs and chants yet to be heard. And a new way of spreading those words, as well. I sat mesmerized long past midnight by the Twitter feeds like #BlackLivesMatter, #Ferguson and #MichaelBrown racing by so fast I couldn't keep up. Most of the messages were from young participants or in support of their protesting peers.

This may not be the "American Winter" to compare with the recent "Arab Spring." But it's the start of something significant. And I believe it's time it's time for us to let our young people share the daunting task of cleaning up the mess they stand to inherit.

Photo credit: YouTube, WeAreChange