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President of National Urban League in Rochester

The President of the National Urban League addresses students at the University of Rochester on the last day of Black History Month.

Marc Morial has been with the Urban League since 2003. Before that, he was the mayor of New Orleans.

When it comes to engaging with young people, Morial says it is vital to the continued progression of the country.

"The students of today, in their hands and in their hearts, are the future of this county. And I believe we have to do a better job for their generation."

Morial says education needs to be made more accessible, and students shouldn't have to go into thousands of dollars of debt to get a degree.

The Urban League President also says leaders of the university need to condemn hate speech, in reference to the UR's Yik Yak controversy. The anonymous social media app became a flashpoint of racial tension at the school when it was used as a forum for racial slurs last year.

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"You may have a right to say what you want to say but I think it is the coward who hides behind anonymity, one who hides behind anonymity in hate speak. That's why the Ku Klux Klan wore hoods."

Marc Morial says this Black History Month is an especially significant one at this point in history.

He says there is a renewed focus on civil rights, some of which is a result of increased transparency around challenges between the police and the community.

"Most of the incidents that have shocked our conscience have also been captured on iPhones, on dash-cams, on video, so Americans are getting an opportunity to see what has often been common place."

Morial adds it's important to recognize the far greater numbers of law enforcement officials who care about the community.

This February is also exceptionally important, he says, because it's the last Black History Month of Barack Obama's Presidency.

"We will look back with tremendous pride as a nation on the election of Obama. Whether one agrees with him or not, I think history will record him as an effective president, as a popular president, and as a president that made a difference."

Veronica Volk is a senior editor and producer for WXXI News.