As demonstrations against police brutality in the wake of George Floyd's death continue weeks after his death and begin to coalesce around a platform of demands, some are hopeful this represents a turning point for America to grapple with its systemic racism.

Former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick recounted some of his own experiences with Boston Public Radio on Tuesday.

When he was attending Milton Academy in the early 1970s, he recalled one evening when it was his turn to pick up burgers with the House Master for the rest of the residential hall. At the burger establishment, a group of kids hurled insults at him, and someone flicked a cigarette butt into his hair. Patrick's first instinct, he said, was to put his House Master at ease.

"I look back on that now and I think to myself, how much energy have I and others spent putting other people at ease with the bad behavior and stuff we experienced, when it would be great to have our white allies ... stick up for us once in a while," he said.

Patrick said the movement growing from outrage over Floyd's death has gratified him, but he remains wary of the nation's short attention span. He encouraged people to think even beyond police reform and into their own hearts when it comes to systemic inequalities and prejudice against people of color.

"For a minute, maybe more than a minute, it'd be great if our allies would just let your guard, down open your heart, and listen," he said.