Chief William Gross Utilizes a Trip to the Movies to Educate & Inspire Our City’s Young People: About a month ago, Chief William Gross invited and accompanied a group of students from area high schools to see the movie Selma, the historical drama documenting the sacrifice and selfless devotion of Martin Luther King and those who joined and followed him in his courageous fight to strengthen and ensure voting rights for African Americans being discouraged and denied from doing so. Those familiar with the Voting Rights Act of 1965, signed into law by President Lydon Johnson in August of that year, know full well the story of Martin Luther King and the impact the protest marches in Selma, Alabama in March of 1965 had in fueling the landmark legislation guaranteeing and protecting voting rights for African Americans wanting to exercise one of our nation’s most fundamental rights. On a bridge in Selma, Alabama, a country changed and progress was made, and fifty years later, the first African American Police Chief in the history of the Boston Police Department used the movie as a vehicle to inspire, motivate and connect with kids in his community.
A few weeks after seeing the movie, Chief Gross and the kids from the Neighborhood House Charter School in Dorchester and Madison Park High School in Roxbury gathered at Boston Police Headquarters to talk about the movie and the lessons learned from seeing it. In addition to the Chief, Deputy John Brown, Detective Janine Busby, Officers William Willis & Jean Jean-Louis, Demon Bills & Jason Whyte of the Research & Development Department, Derek Green of the Operations Division and Dana Richardson of the Boston Chapter NAACP joined the discussion. During the ensuing youth/police dialogue, questions were answered and ideas exchanged. But, Chief Gross and others were quick to use the conversation as an opportunity to encourage the kids to be difference makers and role models in their neighborhoods. To not be afraid to stand up and take a stand for what’s right for them and their community.
In his message to the kids, Chief Gross shared the following: “We want what’s best for these kids. They’re our future and we want to see them do great things in our city. But, we also want them to be ready for the challenges that await them. Whether it’s standing up to bullies or peer-pressure, these kids have to be ready. It’s not often you get asked to stand up for what’s right. It’s not often you get a chance to make a difference as Martin Luther King did. But – when that opportunity presents itself – we want these kids to take action. We want them to speak up and be heard because if they don’t speak up, they can’t expect to effect change or make things better.” Aside from the discussion, Chief Gross asked the kids to write an essay highlighting lessons learned from watching the movie. Congratulations to Danne’ Burnett of Madison Park High School for penning the winning essay. In her essay, Danne' wrote: “Although the haters did their best to oppress by promoting violence and taking lives of the innocent … in the end, hardship and perseverance beat ignorance and evil.” The Youth/Police Dialogue series was created to bring cops and kids together to strengthen their relationship and understanding of one another. Thanks to a movie about a cause, the men and women of the BPD were able to further ours. And, our cause is Community Policing.