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Ken Burns Tells Wash U Grads that ‘Black Lives Matter’

Documentary filmmaker, Ken Burns. (David King/CC BY 2.0)
Documentary filmmaker, Ken Burns. (David King/CC BY 2.0)

Koran Addo, THE ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

ST. LOUIS (The St. Louis Post-Dispatch) — Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns invoked the Black Lives Matter slogan in Washington University’s graduation ceremony Friday morning, calling continued struggles with racism the country’s greatest shame.

Much of his keynote address centered on race as he spoke about the need to collectively work on our imperfect nature. He reminded the crowd that state-sanctioned racism lives on past slavery’s abolishment, and he chastised politicians for shying away from meaningful conversations on race.

“Four centuries of discrimination, but politicians insist on this hypocritical color-blindness,” he said.

Slavery has given way to Jim Crow and sharecropping, he said, which has transformed into today’s prison system and corrupt municipalities.

“Our towns and our suburbs … cannot become the new plantations,” he said.

Burns received a number of standing ovations during his speech, with perhaps the most sustained when he told graduates: “Always remember: black lives matter … all lives matter.”

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