In America, the issue of race has always been of actuality. The country itself was built on the belittlement and inconsideration of black people’s lives. The abolition of slavery should have been the end of all of the injustices. However, they only continued under different forms, one being police brutality against black individuals. Black Lives Matter was born to help fight those injustices. Nevertheless, it is not the first movement to fight for the for social justice for the Black community.
It is, on the other hand, the first movement to fight police cruelty toward Black people head first. A long line of heinous acts has led to the creation of a movement that now, not only fights against police brutality, but also is inspiring minority groups to take a stand and fight for injustice. This paper is about How the Black lives Matter came to be, the work they have accomplished for their community and the what they have yet to do to make life fairer to African Americans.
On March 3, 1991, Rodney King, who was a taxi driver, was brutally beaten by LAPD officers amid his capture for speeding on California State Route 210 (Linder, 1995-2018). A regular citizen, George Holliday, recorded the episode from his close-by gallery and sent the recording to nearby news station KTLA (Linder, 1995-2018). The George Holliday video, that played on TV so frequently that an official at CNN called it ‘wallpaper,’ demonstrated three Los Angeles cops –– as their supervisor watched––kicking, stepping on, and beating with metal stick an apparently exposed and unarmed African-American (Linder, 1995-2018).
Surveys taken not long after the video demonstrated that over 90% of Los Angeles inhabitants who saw the tape trusted that the police utilized inordinate power in capturing King (Linder, 1995-2018). Notwithstanding the tape, a jury in Simi Valley closed the case a year later stating that the proof was not adequate to convict the officers (Linder, 1995-2018). Within hours of the jury’s decision, Los Angeles ejected in uproars (Linder, 1995-2018). And with the riots, more than fifty-four individuals had lost their lives, more than 7,000 individuals had been captured, and a huge number of dollars’ worth of property had been obliterated. All this was for the population to show how unhappy they were with the unfair results of the trials. (Linder, 1995-2018). Cases like this demonstrate that police violence against African American did not only start in 2012 with the murder of Trayvon Martin.
State-endorsed savagery against African Americans has been a reality in the United States as long as slavery was present. In fact, Frederick Harris discovered that evidence recorded from the Jim Crow era looks disturbingly similar to situations experienced by the black community today (Harris, 2015). For instance, a policeman shot and killed two black men, wounded the third one, and arrested the fourth one in a café, in Freeport Long Island, in February 1946 (Harris, 2015). The reason why they were killed is because they were denied services and the police officer supposedly acted to prevent “a possible uprising of local Negros” (Harris, 2015). In numerous pockets of the urban North, the policing of Black migrants was just a parallel to the Jim Crow brutality that threatened them in the South (Harris, 2015).
The inquiry that ordinarily springs up when black individuals are murdered by police is whether or not it has anything to do with race (Harris, 2015). Numerous examinations do demonstrate that, indeed, race has an impact in making policemen pull the trigger all the more rapidly on black suspects than any other suspect (Harris, 2015). And it was because of these heinous acts that African Americans decided that it was time to take another stance for justice and social equality by coming up with the Black lives matter movement (Harris, 2015).
The movement of Black lives Matter officially started in 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. The event that triggered it was when a police officer shot and murdered an innocent black teenager (Baptiste, 2017). This put the black community through a stage of revolt (Baptiste, 2017). The movement came together to march through the streets from Baltimore all the way to Chicago, passing through Cleveland (Black Lives Matter, n.d.). The Ferguson case might have been the nation’s trigger but to Alicia Garza, a black activist, what drove her was the fatal murder of Trayvon Martin in Stanford, Florida on February 12, 2012 (Baptiste, 2017). She wrote on her Facebook page, in response to the murder “I continue to be surprised at how little Black lives matter” (Baptiste, 2017). She then, along with other activists such as Opal Tometi and Patrisse Cullors, helped popularize the phrase through hashtags on twitter and other social medias (Baptiste, 2017). The movement officially started their plan of action in 2013 (Baptiste, 2017).
After the murder of Mike Brown in 2014 by the police officer Darren Wilson, it became clear that the movement needed to do something in order to show that the black community had had enough (Baptiste, 2017). Over 600 people made it to the gathering to support the Black community in St. Louis and show that the movement is the commencement of a revolution (Black Lives Matter, n.d.). The movement is now a member led global network of more than forty chapters (Black Lives Matter, n.d.).
The movement of Black lives matter is hitting the five years bar period of change and evolution (Roberts, 2018). The movement has influenced millions of people and is inciting the truth out of people (Roberts, 2018). It has given us a framework and shows us what democracy really does look like (Roberts, 2018). It has given its people a voice to talk about what they believe in –– and stand against injustices such as police violence and the forms of racism experienced by the black community (Roberts, 2018). The BLM movement has succeeded in transforming how Americans talk about, think about, and organize for freedom (Roberts, 2018).
The BLM is a part of a coalition called the Movement of Black lives, and together they have been fighting and responding to high-profile police shootings of black people from 2014 to this day (Ransby, 2017). Their actions are reinvigorating the 21st-century racial-justice movement, and by extension the anti-racist left, by offering a better model for social movements (Ransby, 2017). The BLM movement is very different from the civil rights movement of the 1960s. The Civil Rights movement tended to the common and political rights that were denied to black people (Harris, 2015) Some of those denials included access and utilization of housing, privilege to vote, guarantee of reasonable business and job openings, and opportunities without discrimination (Harris, 2015). The Civil Rights Activists did not straightforwardly stand up to the racialized debasement black individuals experienced, and many kept on encountering, because of the police (Harris, 2015).
What the Black Lives Matter movement has accomplished is significant; they switched the spotlight on police injustice towards black people (Economist, 2018). Official reactions to police killings, in some locations, are likewise changing (Economist, 2018). For example, in Chicago, changes are witnessed; a police officer is being tried for the murder of a young black male, he shot multiple times, while on duty (Economist, 2018). This is the first time a policeman is being tried like this for a murder since the 1970s (Economist, 2018).
Barbara Ransby, a scholarly in Chicago who simply distributed a past filled with BLM, considers it a movement on the move (Economist, 2018). Not only are they fighting against police viciousness, their attention has now spread to different social concerns such as strikingly sexual governmental issues and women’s liberation, among many others (Economist, 2018). Social justice groups used to be led by tyrannical and moderately aged men, who hold little intrigue for youths today (Harris, 2015). The new take on it is demonstrating that not only black lives matter and the youth is to be protected, but also it shows American society how to respect black lives (Harris, 2015) (Lowery, 2017).
However, the fight is not easy considering the fact that the current administration can be seen as racist. This is fairly problematic and will negatively impact the black community. For instance, Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ opinions on drug war laws lead people to suspect that he is planning on walking away from the Obama administration’s efforts to reduce the number of killing on black people (Lowery, 2017). Jeff Sessions stated that federal investigations into police departments is damaging to officers’ morals and can lead to potential suicide (Lowery, 2017). Nevertheless, even though the Trump Administration is clearly challenging the BLM movement, this is not stopping them from their goals and objectives (Lowery, 2017). In 2017, a police officer was fired three days after he fatally shot a 15-year-old boy sitting in a car; he was later charged with the murder (Lowery, 2017). This is the result of the pressure from activists on city officials (Lowery, 2017).
Another thing that the BLM movement is working on is trying to stop mass incarceration afflicted on black people (Lowery, 2017). Mary Hook, an organizer with Black Lives Matter in Atlanta, stated that more than $33,000 was raised by Black Lives Matter activists and used to bail black mothers out of jail on Mother’s Day (Lowery, 2017). They are also working with the city council to try to make possession of a small quantity of marijuana punishable by a $75 fine instead of arrest. They are trying to “force” Atlanta’s mayor to examine how the police has been “militarized,” said Hook (Lowery, 2017).
The movement is still flourishing. Moreover, their actions to help the Black community spreads out more from fighting mass incarceration to “food poison” fed to poor black communities. All of this do not necessarily require attention from the media but as long as it incites changes, it helps the movement grow stronger. Black Lives Matter will forever be reminisced as the movement that acted and popularized what has now become an essential instrument in 21st-century which is the use of social medias (Roberts, 2018). That phenomenon is mainly referred to “mediated mobilization” (Roberts, 2018). BLM was the first U.S. social movement in history to use the internet and successfully spread itself out as a mass mobilization device through social medias (Roberts, 2018). The recent successes of movements, such as the Me Too, and the Times Up movement, would be inconceivable without the groundwork that BlackLivesMatter laid out for all revolutionary movements (Roberts, 2018).