Nearly 50 years after Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, Americans still employ his strategy of confronting injustice with peaceful civil disobedience to get the attention of people at the highest levels of power.

In 2014, after an African-American man was killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, and another was killed in New York City, tens of thousands of Americans protested in major cities and smaller towns across the nation.

“As long as they’re peaceful, I think they’re necessary,” President Obama said of the protests during a Black Entertainment Television interview. “When they turn violent, then they’re counterproductive.”

Today’s youth leaders, many born a quarter-century after King’s death, organize through social media and other tools King could only have dreamed of. Race relations are discussed online, and protesters deploy hashtags on signs to raise awareness of sites with more information.

In December 2014, Obama discussed policing with youth protest leaders at the White House. After the meeting, Obama formed the Task Force on 21st Century Policing. Members including government officials, technical advisers and youth leaders are working to “strengthen trust among law enforcement officers and the communities they serve.”

Twenty-one-year-old Leighton Watson of Washington was among the young civil rights leaders who met with the president. Watson, who now assists the task force, told GVH Live that he feels privileged to have met with Obama and with other White House officials.

“They are seeing us out there, protesting, they are seeing us out there talking about the issues, but they are also valuing our perspective as far as solutions are concerned,” Watson said.