Next generation of civil rights leaders on their hopes for the future

Young leaders seek civil rights reform
Young leaders seek civil rights reform 02:01

Montclair, New Jersey — In O'Fallon, Missouri, Ryan Staples was about to lead a protest march when he saw the Police Chief Tim Clothier. "I said, 'lock arms with me chief and let's go,'" Staples told CBS News. "It was probably the best moment I've ever had in my entire life."

Just four days before, the 18-year-old graduated high school.

"So I was at work and I just pulled out my phone and I saw a lot of violence occurring in cities across the nation. And I talked to my friends and I was like, 'hey, guys, I'm going to start a protest.' And they were like, 'oh, really?'"

Hoping to become a civil rights lawyer, Staples relies on the past to chart his future.

"It just felt so empowering to realize that I am doing what my ancestors did before me," he explained. "And I'm a part of the change that's coming."

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Ryan Staples seen in Missouri. CBS News

Mike Griffin has been working on that change for the last 15 years as a community organizer in Minneapolis. He said this week has been one of the toughest in his life.

"I'm going to be out there in these streets every single day protesting, organizing and getting people to vote because we have structural problems in America," he said.

Griffin thinks of his 92-year old grandfather who was a minister and a leader of the Montgomery bus boycott 65 years ago.

"Black folks in this country has advanced through being well organized, through protesting and through voting," Griffin said. "How we protest in America is in our DNA."

It certainly is for Ryan Staples. "The youth is so passionate about change in society that they just need someone to spearhead it," he said.

  • Jim Axelrod
    Jim Axelrod

    Jim Axelrod is the chief investigative correspondent and senior national correspondent for CBS News, reporting for "CBS This Morning," the "CBS Evening News," "CBS Sunday Morning," and other CBS News broadcasts.