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21st Century Movements for Black Lives
by Nikkolas Smith (2013)
by Ricardo Levins Morales (2013)
BLM was founded by three Black women, Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Opal Tometi
(pictured above). As an activist network, BLM operates with a decentralized leadership
structure under the premise that local communities know best what they need and that
everyone has leadership capabilities. This is in contrast to the dominant image of the civil
rights era of the 1950s and 1960s, which was led by highly structured organizations like Dr.
King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and even the Student Nonviolent
Coordinating Committee. BLM has encountered some issues in this regard, as a lack of
centralized leadership makes it possible for fringe members of a movement to attempt to
speak on its behalf and for critics to more easily work to undermine the movement’s
message and aims.
#blacklivesmatter
This timeline highlights key
moments in the evolution of the
Black Lives Matter movement as
discussed in the film Stay Woke
(2016). The hashtag
#blacklivesmatter was first used
after George Zimmerman’s July
2013 acquittal in the killing of
unarmed Black teenager
Trayvon Martin.
The year 1968 has been offered by historians as a global
turning point given the assassination of Martin Luther
King Jr, the leading advocate of nonviolent civil
disobedience as a tool for achieving racial justice in the
U.S. Following King’s murder, violent uprisings occurred
in dozens of cities, including Chicago, Baltimore, and
Washington D.C. This Time magazine cover connects the
unrest of 1968 to protests in 2015 in response to the death
of a Black man named Freddie Gray after he was taken
into custody by Baltimore City police on April 12.
The killing of unarmed Black civilians, including
teenagers and adolescents, at the hands of police has been
the chief cause around which BLM and other movements
have mobilized. The demand “Black Lives Matter,”
however, has expanded beyond concerns of police
brutality and excessive force to include issues of
economic justice, as well as community empowerment
and political power.
Black Freedom Movements:
Then and Now
Pivotal Moments in 2020
On Feb 23, Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed 25-year
old Black man, was fatally shot while jogging in
Glynn County, GA. Arbery had been pursued and
confronted by three white men, a father and son
and their neighbor, who were armed and driving
a pickup truck. They said they suspected Arbery
of committing burglaries in the area and claimed
self-defense in his killing; all three were
convicted of murder by a mostly white jury in
Nov 2021. In Feb 2022, they were each found
guilty of federal hate crimes, and each filed an
appeal in Mar 2023. Arguments in the appeal of
their hate crimes conviction began in Mar 2024.
Pivotal Moments in 2020
On Mar 13, Louisville, KY, police officers knocked
down the door of 26 year-old Breonna Taylor while
attempting to serve a no-knock search warrant on
her ex-boyfriend, who was not present. Police fired
several shots, killing her. After an investigation,
three officers were terminated, but no one has been
charged with her killing. Taylor’s boyfriend, a
registered gun owner, was initially charged with
assault and attempted murder of a police officer for
firing his weapon in self-defense, unaware that
police were conducting a raid.
Pivotal Moments in 2020
George Floyd was killed on May 25 by Minneapolis,
MN, police. Despite an official police report claiming
Floyd suffered a “medical emergency” during his
arrest, video soon circulated showing a white officer,
Derek Chauvin, kneeling on his neck with his hands in
his pockets for more than nine minutes while Floyd
pleaded for his life, repeatedly begging, “I can’t
breathe.” Chauvin was convicted of second-degree
murder in Apr 2021. His lawyer described Chauvin’s
actions as “an error made in good faith.” In Feb 2022,
the three other officers who had been on the scene
were found guilty of depriving Floyd of his civil rights
while acting under government authority. All three
have since been convicted in his death.
Murder of George Floyd
(May 2020)
Police Press Release:
“Man Dies After Medical Incident During Police Interaction”
“On Monday evening, shortly after 8:00 pm, officers…responded
to the 3700 block of Chicago Avenue South on a report of a forgery
in progress. Officers were advised that the suspect was sitting on
top of a blue car and appeared to be under the influence.
Two officers arrived and located the suspect, a male believed to be
in his 40s, in his car. He was ordered to step from his car. After he
got out, he physically resisted officers. Officers were able to get the
suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering
medical distress. Officers called for an ambulance. He was
transported to Hennepin County Medical Center by ambulance
where he died a short time later.
At no time were weapons of any type used by anyone involved in
this incident. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has
been called in to investigate this incident at the request of the
Minneapolis Police Department.
No officers were injured in the incident. Body worn cameras were
on and activated during this incident.”
In 2020, racial justice protests exploded following the videotaped killing on May 25 of George Floyd by a
Minneapolis police officer who kneeled on the handcuffed man’s neck for nine minutes while other officers
watched. In the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has proven far deadlier and more
economically devastating for people of color, BLM protests took place in major cities around the United
States and the world. Supporters donated more than $90 million to BLM’s efforts during 2020. Despite
attempts to characterize BLM protesters as violent, an Oct 2020 study by the Washington Post found that
more than 96 percent of demonstrations involved no property damage and nearly 98 percent involved no
injuries to participants, bystanders, or police.
(22 Jun 2020)
“Black policemen were another matter. We used to say, ‘If you must call
a policeman’ — for we hardly ever did — ‘for God’s sake, try to make
sure it’s a white one.’A Black policeman could completely demolish
you. He knew far more about you than a white policeman could and you
were without defenses before this Black brother in uniform, whose
entire reason for breathing seemed to be his hope to offer proof that,
though he was Black, he was not Black like you.”
--James Baldwin, The Evidence of Things Not Seen (1985)
Proposed Strategies to Address Police Brutality
• Emphasize transparency, including use of body-worn cameras and
dash cams.
• Change standard or permitted practices – eliminate tactics like
chokeholds and no-knock warrants.
• “Defund the Police” – reduce police department budgets and
redistribute those funds to community programs like mental health
services, addiction treatment programs, housing and job placement,
recreational facilities, and youth programs.
• Establish a “Duty to Intervene” – pass legislation or polices requiring
officers to act to stop acts of aggression or brutality by other officers.
• Require recertification and ongoing training on issues of bias,
community relations, and acceptable practices.
• Change standards of accountability for police.
“Defunding” the Police
Demands for Black Freedom
in the 21st Century
What specific goals or demands
should anchor Movements for
Black Lives today? What tactics
and strategies should activists
prioritize?
E
CO
NO
MICJUSTICE We demand economic
j
u
st
i
c
e
f
o
r
a
l
l
a
nda
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c
o
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r
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t
i
o
no
f
t
h
e
e
c
o
no
my
t
oe
nsu
r
e
Bl
a
c
k
c
o
mmu
ni
t
i
e
s h
a
v
e
c
o
l
l
e
c
t
i
v
e
o
w ne
r
sh
i
p
,
no
tme
r
e
l
y
a
c
c
e
ss.
DIVE
ST
–
INVE
STWe demand investments in the educa-
t
i
o
n,
h
e
a
l
t
h
a
ndsa
f
e
t
y
o
f
Bl
a
c
k
p
e
o
p
l
e
,
i
nst
e
a
do
f
i
nv
e
st
me
nt
s i
nt
h
e
c
r
i
mi
na
l
i
z
i
ng
,
c
a
g
i
ng
,
a
ndh
a
r
mi
ng
o
f
Bl
a
c
k
p
e
o
p
l
e
.
We
wa
nti
nv
e
st
-
me
nt
s i
nBl
a
c
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c
o
mmu
ni
t
i
e
s,
d
e
t
e
r
mi
ne
db
y
Bl
a
c
k
c
o
mmu
ni
t
i
e
s,
a
nd
divestment from exploitative forces including prisons, fossil fuels,
police, surveillance and exploitative corporations.
CO
MMUNITYCO
NTRO
LW e
d
e
ma
nda
w o
r
l
d
w h
e
r
e
t
h
o
se
mo
sti
mp
a
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di
no
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o
mmu
ni
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i
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s c
o
nt
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l
t
h
e
l
a
w s,
institutions, and policies that are meant to serve us – from our
schools to our local budgets, economies, police departments, and
o
u
r
l
a
nd–
w h
i
l
e
r
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c
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s f
a
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sta
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sob
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d
.
PO
LITICALPO
WE
RWe demand independent
Bl
a
c
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p
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l
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c
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p
o
w e
r
a
ndBl
a
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d
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.
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e
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i
si
o
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ntU.
S.
p
o
l
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c
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l
sy
st
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m
i
no
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r
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oc
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mo
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r
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w h
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Bl
a
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ma
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dp
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i
se
f
u
l
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p
o
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i
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c
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p
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w e
r
.
RE
PARATIO
NSWe demand reparations for past and
continuing harms. The government, responsible corporations and
o
t
h
e
r
i
nst
i
t
u
t
i
o
ns t
h
a
th
a
v
e
p
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i
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f
f
o
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t
h
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a
r
m t
h
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y
h
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v
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i
nf
l
i
c
t
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do
nBl
a
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p
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o
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—f
r
o
m c
o
l
o
ni
a
l
i
sm t
osl
a
v
e
r
y
t
h
r
o
u
g
h
f
o
o
da
ndh
o
u
si
ng
r
e
d
l
i
ni
ng
,
ma
ss i
nc
a
r
c
e
r
a
t
i
o
n,
a
ndsu
r
v
e
i
l
l
a
nc
e
—
must repair the harm done
E
CO
NO
MICJUSTICE We demand economic
j
u
st
i
c
e
f
o
r
a
l
l
a
nda
r
e
c
o
nst
r
u
c
t
i
o
no
f
t
h
e
e
c
o
no
my
t
oe
nsu
r
e
Bl
a
c
k
c
o
mmu
ni
t
i
e
s h
a
v
e
c
o
l
l
e
c
t
i
v
e
o
w ne
r
sh
i
p
,
no
tme
r
e
l
y
a
c
c
e
ss.
DIVE
ST
–
INVE
STWe demand investments in the educa-
t
i
o
n,
h
e
a
l
t
h
a
ndsa
f
e
t
y
o
f
Bl
a
c
k
p
e
o
p
l
e
,
i
nst
e
a
do
f
i
nv
e
st
me
nt
s i
nt
h
e
c
r
i
mi
na
l
i
z
i
ng
,
c
a
g
i
ng
,
a
ndh
a
r
mi
ng
o
f
Bl
a
c
k
p
e
o
p
l
e
.
We
wa
nti
nv
e
st
-
me
nt
s i
nBl
a
c
k
c
o
mmu
ni
t
i
e
s,
d
e
t
e
r
mi
ne
db
y
Bl
a
c
k
c
o
mmu
ni
t
i
e
s,
a
nd
divestment from exploitative forces including prisons, fossil fuels,
police, surveillance and exploitative corporations.
AVISIONFORBLACKLIVE
S:
PO LI CY D EM AN D S FO R BLACK
PO W ER, FREED O M , & JU STI CE
E
NDTHEW
ARO
NBLACKPE
O
PLE
W e
d
e
ma
nda
ne
ndt
ot
h
e
w a
r
a
g
a
i
nstBl
a
c
k
p
e
o
p
l
e
.
Si
nc
e
t
h
i
s
c
o
u
nt
r
y
’
s i
nc
e
p
t
i
o
nt
h
e
r
e
h
a
v
e
b
e
e
nna
me
da
ndu
nna
me
dw a
r
s
on our communities. We demand an end to the criminalization,
i
nc
a
r
c
e
r
a
t
i
o
n,
a
ndk
i
l
l
i
ng
o
f
o
u
r
p
e
o
p
l
e
.
PO LI CY. M 4 BL . O RG
The policy platform, or list of demands, of the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) was
released in Aug 2016. Its rhetoric is sharp, and in a white supremacist nation, its demands
seem revolutionary.
The Work Continues
https://blacklivesmatter.com/about/
In June 2020, during his last public
appearance, Congressman John Lewis,
an icon of the civil rights era, visited
Black Lives Matter Plaza near the
White House, a tribute erected in
response to the 2020 killings of George
Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other Black
Americans by police.
In the final days of his battle with
cancer, Lewis explained, “I had to see
and feel it for myself that, after many
years of silent witness, the truth is still
marching on.”
“Ordinary people with extraordinary vision can
redeem the soul of America by getting in what
I call good trouble, necessary trouble. Voting
and participating in the democratic process are
key. The vote is the most powerful nonviolent
change agent you have in a democratic society.
You must use it because it is not guaranteed.
You can lose it.”
-- “Together, You Can Redeem the Soul of America,”
John Lewis’ final message to the world, published on the
day of his funeral (30 Jul 2020).
Voting Rights Act (VRA) overturned by U.S. Supreme Court
in Shelby County v. Holder (2013)
• In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court
overturned Sec. 5 of the VRA, which required
jurisdictions with a history of discriminatory
voting laws to obtain approval
(“preclearance”) from the Department of
Justice before changing voting laws.
• According to the nonpartisan Brennan Center
for Justice, “The decision in Shelby County
opened the floodgates to laws restricting
voting throughout the United States. The
effects were immediate. Within 24 hours of the
ruling, Texas announced that it would
implement a strict photo ID law. Two other
states, Mississippi and Alabama, also began to
enforce photo ID laws that had previously
been barred because of federal preclearance.”
“Throwing out preclearance when
it has worked and is continuing to
work to stop discriminatory
changes is like throwing away your
umbrella in a rainstorm because
you are not getting wet.”
--Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg,
dissenting from the majority opinion in
the Shelby decision
Ongoing Efforts to Keep American Citizens from Voting
(aka “voter suppression”)
• Voter identification laws that disproportionately impact poor communities and
voters who do not have a driver’s license.
• Felon disenfranchisement laws (some states prohibit anyone who has ever been
convicted of certain types of felonies from ever voting again, e.g. MS, AL, AZ).
• State requirements that all court fines and fees be paid in order to vote (e.g. FL).
• Closure of polling places (esp. in poor or minority neighborhoods), requiring
voters to travel farther to cast ballot.
• Limiting voting hours and early voting (esp. in poor or minority neighborhoods)
making it more difficult for working people to cast ballots.
Ongoing Efforts to Keep American Citizens from Voting (cont’d)
(aka “voter suppression”)
• Limiting voting hours and early voting (esp. in poor or minority neighborhoods)
making it more difficult for working people to cast ballots.
• Voter roll purges that remove registered voters and require them to reregister.
• Efforts to undermine the security or accessibility of voting by mail (e.g. a new TX
voter ID law led to nearly 40 percent of mail-in ballots being rejected during 2022
primary elections bc the ID used to vote did not match the ID used to register).
• Encouraging self-appointed “poll watchers” to monitor/intimidate voters at the
polls.
• Rhetoric casting doubts on the legitimacy of the electoral process.
**Voter suppression efforts can take multiple forms, both legal and illegal.
(2023)
Source: The Sentencing Project
Register to vote if you are
eligible, and then actually vote!
If you are eligible to vote but do not live in
Massachusetts, visit www.vote.gov.

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4.16.24 21st Century Movements for Black Lives.pptx

  • 1. 21st Century Movements for Black Lives
  • 2. by Nikkolas Smith (2013) by Ricardo Levins Morales (2013)
  • 3. BLM was founded by three Black women, Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Opal Tometi (pictured above). As an activist network, BLM operates with a decentralized leadership structure under the premise that local communities know best what they need and that everyone has leadership capabilities. This is in contrast to the dominant image of the civil rights era of the 1950s and 1960s, which was led by highly structured organizations like Dr. King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and even the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. BLM has encountered some issues in this regard, as a lack of centralized leadership makes it possible for fringe members of a movement to attempt to speak on its behalf and for critics to more easily work to undermine the movement’s message and aims. #blacklivesmatter
  • 4. This timeline highlights key moments in the evolution of the Black Lives Matter movement as discussed in the film Stay Woke (2016). The hashtag #blacklivesmatter was first used after George Zimmerman’s July 2013 acquittal in the killing of unarmed Black teenager Trayvon Martin.
  • 5. The year 1968 has been offered by historians as a global turning point given the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr, the leading advocate of nonviolent civil disobedience as a tool for achieving racial justice in the U.S. Following King’s murder, violent uprisings occurred in dozens of cities, including Chicago, Baltimore, and Washington D.C. This Time magazine cover connects the unrest of 1968 to protests in 2015 in response to the death of a Black man named Freddie Gray after he was taken into custody by Baltimore City police on April 12. The killing of unarmed Black civilians, including teenagers and adolescents, at the hands of police has been the chief cause around which BLM and other movements have mobilized. The demand “Black Lives Matter,” however, has expanded beyond concerns of police brutality and excessive force to include issues of economic justice, as well as community empowerment and political power. Black Freedom Movements: Then and Now
  • 6.
  • 7. Pivotal Moments in 2020 On Feb 23, Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed 25-year old Black man, was fatally shot while jogging in Glynn County, GA. Arbery had been pursued and confronted by three white men, a father and son and their neighbor, who were armed and driving a pickup truck. They said they suspected Arbery of committing burglaries in the area and claimed self-defense in his killing; all three were convicted of murder by a mostly white jury in Nov 2021. In Feb 2022, they were each found guilty of federal hate crimes, and each filed an appeal in Mar 2023. Arguments in the appeal of their hate crimes conviction began in Mar 2024.
  • 8. Pivotal Moments in 2020 On Mar 13, Louisville, KY, police officers knocked down the door of 26 year-old Breonna Taylor while attempting to serve a no-knock search warrant on her ex-boyfriend, who was not present. Police fired several shots, killing her. After an investigation, three officers were terminated, but no one has been charged with her killing. Taylor’s boyfriend, a registered gun owner, was initially charged with assault and attempted murder of a police officer for firing his weapon in self-defense, unaware that police were conducting a raid.
  • 9. Pivotal Moments in 2020 George Floyd was killed on May 25 by Minneapolis, MN, police. Despite an official police report claiming Floyd suffered a “medical emergency” during his arrest, video soon circulated showing a white officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeling on his neck with his hands in his pockets for more than nine minutes while Floyd pleaded for his life, repeatedly begging, “I can’t breathe.” Chauvin was convicted of second-degree murder in Apr 2021. His lawyer described Chauvin’s actions as “an error made in good faith.” In Feb 2022, the three other officers who had been on the scene were found guilty of depriving Floyd of his civil rights while acting under government authority. All three have since been convicted in his death.
  • 10. Murder of George Floyd (May 2020) Police Press Release: “Man Dies After Medical Incident During Police Interaction” “On Monday evening, shortly after 8:00 pm, officers…responded to the 3700 block of Chicago Avenue South on a report of a forgery in progress. Officers were advised that the suspect was sitting on top of a blue car and appeared to be under the influence. Two officers arrived and located the suspect, a male believed to be in his 40s, in his car. He was ordered to step from his car. After he got out, he physically resisted officers. Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress. Officers called for an ambulance. He was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center by ambulance where he died a short time later. At no time were weapons of any type used by anyone involved in this incident. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has been called in to investigate this incident at the request of the Minneapolis Police Department. No officers were injured in the incident. Body worn cameras were on and activated during this incident.”
  • 11. In 2020, racial justice protests exploded following the videotaped killing on May 25 of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer who kneeled on the handcuffed man’s neck for nine minutes while other officers watched. In the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has proven far deadlier and more economically devastating for people of color, BLM protests took place in major cities around the United States and the world. Supporters donated more than $90 million to BLM’s efforts during 2020. Despite attempts to characterize BLM protesters as violent, an Oct 2020 study by the Washington Post found that more than 96 percent of demonstrations involved no property damage and nearly 98 percent involved no injuries to participants, bystanders, or police.
  • 13. “Black policemen were another matter. We used to say, ‘If you must call a policeman’ — for we hardly ever did — ‘for God’s sake, try to make sure it’s a white one.’A Black policeman could completely demolish you. He knew far more about you than a white policeman could and you were without defenses before this Black brother in uniform, whose entire reason for breathing seemed to be his hope to offer proof that, though he was Black, he was not Black like you.” --James Baldwin, The Evidence of Things Not Seen (1985)
  • 14. Proposed Strategies to Address Police Brutality • Emphasize transparency, including use of body-worn cameras and dash cams. • Change standard or permitted practices – eliminate tactics like chokeholds and no-knock warrants. • “Defund the Police” – reduce police department budgets and redistribute those funds to community programs like mental health services, addiction treatment programs, housing and job placement, recreational facilities, and youth programs. • Establish a “Duty to Intervene” – pass legislation or polices requiring officers to act to stop acts of aggression or brutality by other officers. • Require recertification and ongoing training on issues of bias, community relations, and acceptable practices. • Change standards of accountability for police.
  • 16.
  • 17.
  • 18. Demands for Black Freedom in the 21st Century What specific goals or demands should anchor Movements for Black Lives today? What tactics and strategies should activists prioritize?
  • 19. E CO NO MICJUSTICE We demand economic j u st i c e f o r a l l a nda r e c o nst r u c t i o no f t h e e c o no my t oe nsu r e Bl a c k c o mmu ni t i e s h a v e c o l l e c t i v e o w ne r sh i p , no tme r e l y a c c e ss. DIVE ST – INVE STWe demand investments in the educa- t i o n, h e a l t h a ndsa f e t y o f Bl a c k p e o p l e , i nst e a do f i nv e st me nt s i nt h e c r i mi na l i z i ng , c a g i ng , a ndh a r mi ng o f Bl a c k p e o p l e . We wa nti nv e st - me nt s i nBl a c k c o mmu ni t i e s, d e t e r mi ne db y Bl a c k c o mmu ni t i e s, a nd divestment from exploitative forces including prisons, fossil fuels, police, surveillance and exploitative corporations. CO MMUNITYCO NTRO LW e d e ma nda w o r l d w h e r e t h o se mo sti mp a c t e di no u r c o mmu ni t i e s c o nt r o l t h e l a w s, institutions, and policies that are meant to serve us – from our schools to our local budgets, economies, police departments, and o u r l a nd– w h i l e r e c o g ni z i ng t h a tt h e r i g h t s a ndh i st o r i e s o f o u r I nd i g e no u s f a mi l y mu sta l sob e r e sp e c t e d . PO LITICALPO WE RWe demand independent Bl a c k p o l i t i c a l p o w e r a ndBl a c k se l f - d e t e r mi na t i o ni na l l a r e a s o f so c i e t y . W e e nv i si o na r e ma k i ng o f t h e c u r r e ntU. S. p o l i t i c a l sy st e m i no r d e r t oc r e a t e a r e a l d e mo c r a c y w h e r e Bl a c k p e o p l e a nda l l ma r g i na l i z e dp e o p l e c a ne f f e c t i v e l y e x e r c i se f u l l p o l i t i c a l p o w e r . RE PARATIO NSWe demand reparations for past and continuing harms. The government, responsible corporations and o t h e r i nst i t u t i o ns t h a th a v e p r o f i t e do f f o f t h e h a r m t h e y h a v e i nf l i c t e do nBl a c k p e o p l e —f r o m c o l o ni a l i sm t osl a v e r y t h r o u g h f o o da ndh o u si ng r e d l i ni ng , ma ss i nc a r c e r a t i o n, a ndsu r v e i l l a nc e — must repair the harm done E CO NO MICJUSTICE We demand economic j u st i c e f o r a l l a nda r e c o nst r u c t i o no f t h e e c o no my t oe nsu r e Bl a c k c o mmu ni t i e s h a v e c o l l e c t i v e o w ne r sh i p , no tme r e l y a c c e ss. DIVE ST – INVE STWe demand investments in the educa- t i o n, h e a l t h a ndsa f e t y o f Bl a c k p e o p l e , i nst e a do f i nv e st me nt s i nt h e c r i mi na l i z i ng , c a g i ng , a ndh a r mi ng o f Bl a c k p e o p l e . We wa nti nv e st - me nt s i nBl a c k c o mmu ni t i e s, d e t e r mi ne db y Bl a c k c o mmu ni t i e s, a nd divestment from exploitative forces including prisons, fossil fuels, police, surveillance and exploitative corporations. AVISIONFORBLACKLIVE S: PO LI CY D EM AN D S FO R BLACK PO W ER, FREED O M , & JU STI CE E NDTHEW ARO NBLACKPE O PLE W e d e ma nda ne ndt ot h e w a r a g a i nstBl a c k p e o p l e . Si nc e t h i s c o u nt r y ’ s i nc e p t i o nt h e r e h a v e b e e nna me da ndu nna me dw a r s on our communities. We demand an end to the criminalization, i nc a r c e r a t i o n, a ndk i l l i ng o f o u r p e o p l e . PO LI CY. M 4 BL . O RG The policy platform, or list of demands, of the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) was released in Aug 2016. Its rhetoric is sharp, and in a white supremacist nation, its demands seem revolutionary. The Work Continues
  • 21. In June 2020, during his last public appearance, Congressman John Lewis, an icon of the civil rights era, visited Black Lives Matter Plaza near the White House, a tribute erected in response to the 2020 killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other Black Americans by police. In the final days of his battle with cancer, Lewis explained, “I had to see and feel it for myself that, after many years of silent witness, the truth is still marching on.”
  • 22. “Ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America by getting in what I call good trouble, necessary trouble. Voting and participating in the democratic process are key. The vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society. You must use it because it is not guaranteed. You can lose it.” -- “Together, You Can Redeem the Soul of America,” John Lewis’ final message to the world, published on the day of his funeral (30 Jul 2020).
  • 23. Voting Rights Act (VRA) overturned by U.S. Supreme Court in Shelby County v. Holder (2013) • In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Sec. 5 of the VRA, which required jurisdictions with a history of discriminatory voting laws to obtain approval (“preclearance”) from the Department of Justice before changing voting laws. • According to the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice, “The decision in Shelby County opened the floodgates to laws restricting voting throughout the United States. The effects were immediate. Within 24 hours of the ruling, Texas announced that it would implement a strict photo ID law. Two other states, Mississippi and Alabama, also began to enforce photo ID laws that had previously been barred because of federal preclearance.”
  • 24. “Throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.” --Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, dissenting from the majority opinion in the Shelby decision
  • 25. Ongoing Efforts to Keep American Citizens from Voting (aka “voter suppression”) • Voter identification laws that disproportionately impact poor communities and voters who do not have a driver’s license. • Felon disenfranchisement laws (some states prohibit anyone who has ever been convicted of certain types of felonies from ever voting again, e.g. MS, AL, AZ). • State requirements that all court fines and fees be paid in order to vote (e.g. FL). • Closure of polling places (esp. in poor or minority neighborhoods), requiring voters to travel farther to cast ballot. • Limiting voting hours and early voting (esp. in poor or minority neighborhoods) making it more difficult for working people to cast ballots.
  • 26. Ongoing Efforts to Keep American Citizens from Voting (cont’d) (aka “voter suppression”) • Limiting voting hours and early voting (esp. in poor or minority neighborhoods) making it more difficult for working people to cast ballots. • Voter roll purges that remove registered voters and require them to reregister. • Efforts to undermine the security or accessibility of voting by mail (e.g. a new TX voter ID law led to nearly 40 percent of mail-in ballots being rejected during 2022 primary elections bc the ID used to vote did not match the ID used to register). • Encouraging self-appointed “poll watchers” to monitor/intimidate voters at the polls. • Rhetoric casting doubts on the legitimacy of the electoral process. **Voter suppression efforts can take multiple forms, both legal and illegal.
  • 27.
  • 30.
  • 31. Register to vote if you are eligible, and then actually vote! If you are eligible to vote but do not live in Massachusetts, visit www.vote.gov.

Editor's Notes

  1. https://www.sentencingproject.org/reports/locked-out-2022-estimates-of-people-denied-voting-rights/