Michael Thomas joined the NFL's Youth for Change Town Hall meeting for a conversation on social justice and affecting meaningful change.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of America hosted a virtual kickoff town hall meeting with National Football League (NFL) Teams and Boys & Girls Clubs across 32 markets on Tuesday. During the hour-long event, two local Boys & Girls Club teens joined Thomas and Denver Broncos safety Justin Simmons in a discussion moderated by Jason Wright, President of the Washington Football Team.
Thomas, who also serves as the NFLPA vice president, shared how he first was inspired to take a knee get involved in social justice initiatives after two black men were gunned down by police four years ago.
"In the summer of 2016, there were back to back unjust murders of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling within a 24-hour period," Thomas said. "I made up my mind that day that, from then on, I was tired of just talking about stuff, tired of hashtags on social media, I wanted to do something that was real."
He encouraged the youth, including teen panelist Reggie from the Houston Texans Teen Club, to use their platform to create awareness about racism and social injustices.
"The fact that we have this platform and it's being broadcast on YouTube, you speaking up as a youth, saying that you want this to be at every Boys & Girls Club or whatever program, that might be a part of the real change," Thomas said. "Every other Boys & Girls Club might hear this and say, you know what? Because of what Reggie just said, we might need to incorporate this moving forward."
Participants learned more about the three phases of direct action to encourage collaboration between Clubs and Teams to create change: hosting listening sessions to identify key social justice issues in their local communities, creating a joint action plan to address these community issues and hosting at least one community event to raise awareness and affect change in their community.
The virtual event and social justice initiative is funded by a grant from the NFL Foundation.