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On Friday, June 19, Axios' markets reporter Dion Rabouin hosted a discussion on the history of Juneteenth and the current nationwide protests against police violence, featuring former Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, BET founder Robert Johnson and activist DeRay Mckesson.

Robert Johnson discussed the history of Juneteenth and his advocacy around reparations.

  • On reparations and race relations: "Reparations is a demand on the part of African-Americans that we be made whole for the wealth that was stolen from slaves over a 300 year period...My position is that white America should recognize the debt and black Americans should be proud to accept the atonement."
  • How slavery laid the foundation for racial income inequality: "It is no secret that the net income of a white family is $170,000 on average. The net income of a black family is $17,000. That 10-fold disparity can be traced directly back to the wealth transfer that started with slave labor."

Mayor Sylvester Turner focused on policy decisions around policing in Houston, and responded to calls for defunding the police.

  • On his decision to increase police funding: "We need policing. [People] are asking for good policing. They're asking for a policing system that's accountable. They're also going beyond that...They want to be investing in communities and neighborhoods that have been overlooked and under invested in for decades."

Valerie Jarrett discussed the ongoing demonstrations around the country and the upcoming election in November.

  • On the importance of civil rights during this political moment: "We need a robust civil rights division...in deciding how you want to vote, you should say, are the people who are in office actually worrying about the civil rights of all Americans and not just some Americans?"
  • On how to make cultural progress: "It's not good enough to just say, 'Look, I'm not a racist.' What you have to say is: 'What am I going to do to help change our culture, to make it better?' There's something that we can all do individually. There's certainly something the business community can do."

DeRay Mckesson highlighted how the present moment invites people to reimagine the concept of safety.

  • "The question is not police, no police. The question is like, how do I stay safe and what does safety look like? The police are not the best answer to that. The police aren't the only answer to that. And the police shouldn't be the answer that we fund when we think of that question."

Thank you Bank of America for sponsoring this event.

Go deeper

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