By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Young voices are leading an important discussion about race and equality.

Recent events in Minnesota and Wisconsin have encouraged them to open up about their experiences and concerns.

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Inside the gymnasium of Minnehaha Academy, the fifth-ranked basketball team in the country is not practicing. They’re sitting down and talking about what’s on their minds and hearts.

Actor, rapper and philanthropist Percy “Master P” Miller led the discussion.

“There is so much hate, you can feel the hate right now, so how do we overcome the hate? We have to overcome it with love,” Master P said.

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He gave these young people an opportunity to talk, so adults can hear their take on police-community relations after George Floyd and Jacob Blake’s encounter’s with police captured the attention of a nation.

“I think there’s prejudice coming from both sides,” student Chet Holmgren said. “A lot of people have hard feelings towards cops, cops have harsh feelings towards certain groups of people. And I think until barriers are broken down on both sides, nothing’s going to happen.”

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(credit: CBS)

Change begins with a conversation, and for the first time, their voices are at the forefront of the talk.

“Just to do this as a group and you can see different sides and different opinions,” student Mercy Miller said. “And you can find ways to make change.”

They are from all different backgrounds, but agree change is needed — and they will have to take the lead to create a better future for all.

“It’s going to take all of us. It’s not just going to be one person. Like we all need to come together and be on the same page,” student Percy Miller said.

And they are ready to go about the work of making sure everyone is treated and looked at equally.

“It starts [by] thinking about another life, having compassion about somebody else,” Master P said.

These student-athletes are not just about talk. They are focused on action, and hope to open their gymnasium as a polling place. They believe real change begins when leaders are voted in who are also focused on change.

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“I definitely feel like it’s a heavy burden on my shoulders than somebody who’s older, because if we don’t begin to make change now, it will continue to happen for the rest of my life,” Holmgren said.

Reg Chapman