While we are fighting battles that are less blatant, and less apparent to the
uncritical eye, they are still battles that address an injustice that has been embedded in our culture. Modern day movements such as Black Lives Matter aim to address those injustices that are subliminal, because although they could pass as ignorable, they are just as problematic as those issues that were fought by the students in Nashville, Tennessee in the early 1960s.
The message of the Black Lives Matter movement is partially directed toward the prison industrial complex, and the cycle it creates within impoverished and mrginalized communities that happen to be predominantly Black. We address the mistreatment endured by these people, the classification as second-class citizen, and the removal of these voices and visuals from society; this is what we are trying to combat. We are trying to de-stigmatize brown and black bodies.
Two important elements that I witnessed in the documentaries were both the preparation for violent resistance that came with training of students, and establishing an organized plan. Also the relentlessness, the idea that even if one group of us are arrested, we have another wave of students on deck to show that this movement was thoughtful and persistent. Those methods of preparedness and laser-point focus on a particular outcome is what we can use as a model for our movement.
We will start by addressing some elements within our society, and then bring light to those provisions within our constitution that allows retardation of our movement. because policy change depends on social change for any real implementation of said policy. Any element of society that has created the dominant voice of a common understanding that is dissatisfactory to a member of the citizenry, that element should be addressed. “Create a crisis so that the federal government could be compelled to enforce federal law,” which was the rationale for the Freedom Ride, and could arguably serve as the platform for the Black Lives Matter protests and rallies. The Governor later stated that it is out of his ability protect people who are “not going to do what [the police] say; who are not going to obey the police,” without recognizing it is not within the citizen’s expectations to obey the police; at least, certainly not to the degree of which the police are expected to protect the citizens. This idea is well understood, now this brings us to questioning who we, as a society, truly regard as citizens. This leads up to demilitarization of the police serving as one of the major principles of the BLM movement. “We wanted something for ourselves and for our children,” and what they wanted has become to be regarded as fact; we’ve almost forgotten that it was once fought for in the same way we are fighting for justices that seem like a far cry.
I noticed that the students are often called “agitators,” and Gov. Patterson says “I think when they learn that when they go somewhere to crate a riot that there’s not someone to stand between them and the other crowd, they’ll stay home.” This statement is basically a testimony to the idea of silencing a movement when it is widely criticized, or seen as a disturbance or agitation to white life, and that, although someone should, nobody is going to stand between your movement and white agitation. “You can’t guarantee the safety of a fool, and these people are just fools,” Gov. Patterson continued to say, and this 1960s philosophy is clearly embedded in the responses toward the Black Lives Matter movement; I remembered all of the instances of BLM protestors being called “hoodlums,” and “thugs.” This philosophy is directed toward both the Black lives that were taken or jeopardized, and the lives of protestors within BLM movement and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.
As I continued to watch, the foundation upon which we currently stand begun to unfold, because as Diane Nash stated, “if the Freedom Ride had been stopped because of violence… the impression
n would have been given that once a movement starts all you have to do to stop it is massive attack.” It is understood by those within the current Black Lives Matter movement that we cannot be stopped by any massive threat, and I once inquired where we extracted this courage, and it is from those who have come before us. We have not created this movement; we are simply continuing the one that has been created to save our lives.
In both the cases of Emmett Till and Trayvon Martin, similar symbols in the Black community as ignition of the peak of their respective movements, the men who committed the murders were found not guilty, which was a devastating result, but the verdicts were not the outcome of these incidences. Instead, “the [final] outcome would be decided by how we in fact channel the energy,” of those verdicts, and the resistance to our movements.
Watch the documentary,
it’s only about an hour long,
and pretty informative.