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The ‘Silent’ Protest That Kick-Started the Civil Rights Movement

The ‘Silent’ Protest That Kick-Started the Civil Rights Movement


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At 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 28, 1917, a group of between 8,000 and 10,000 African American men, women and children began marching through the streets of midtown Manhattan in what became one of the first civil rights protests in American history—nearly 50 years before the March on Washington. Accompanied only by the sound of drums as they moved down Fifth Avenue, the protestors marched in silence, mourning those killed in a wave of anti-African American violence that had swept across the nation.

In the year preceding the march, two notorious lynching attacks had made headlines; one in Waco, Texas, which saw 10,000 people gather to watch a Black man hung, and another in Tennessee that drew a crowd of 5,000. Even more shocking were the race riots that broke out in East St. Louis, Illinois, in the spring and summer of 1917.

Racial tensions in the city had been rising for years, as waves of southern Blacks fled the Jim Crow South, traveling to industrial cities in the north in search of better living conditions and employment opportunities as part of what is known as the Great Migration. Business owners fanned the racial flames, hiring the newly-arrived Black workers at lower wages than their white counterparts, and even using them as strikebreakers in their ongoing fight against unionized workers.

The first wave of attacks came in May, when a 3,000-strong mob descended on the downtown area, forcing the governor to call in the National Guard. After several weeks of relative calm, tensions exploded on the evening of July 2. Earlier that day, a car driven by several white men had shot into a crowd of people in the Black section of the city. When another car (carrying police officers and a reporter) entered the same section a few hours later, Black residents opened fire, killing two passengers.

Incensed white residents went on the attack, setting fire to large sections of Black neighborhoods, and indiscriminately beating, stabbing, shooting and lynching any Blacks they could find—including the young, old and disabled. Earlier they had cut off access to the fire department’s water supply. The National Guard was once again called in, but did little to quell the unrest (and, according to some reports, joined the mob’s efforts). After 24 hours of violence, at least 40 Black Americans had been killed, although it’s likely that number was as high as 200. More than 6,000 Black residents were left homeless, with an estimated $7 million (in today’s dollars) in property damage.

The brutality of the East St. Louis riots stunned many Americans, particularly those involved in the nascent civil rights movement. The NAACP, founded just eight years earlier by W.E.B. Du Bois and other activists, sprang into action. At a meeting in Harlem, James Weldon Johnson, who had joined the organization in 1916, called for a protest march through the heart of New York City’s business district. Women and children would take the lead (including a troop of young, Black Boy Scouts), clad in white. Men would follow behind, dressed in darker, more mournful shades. And critically, despite the NAACP’s large white membership, only African Americans would participate.

An NAACP flyer advertising the march stated the group’s aims. “We march because we want our children to live in a better land and enjoy fairer conditions than have fallen to our lot,” the Rev. Charles Martin, an NAACP secretary, said. “We march in memory of our butchered dead, the massacre of the honest toilers who were removing the reproach of laziness and thriftlessness hurled at the entire race. They died to prove our worthiness to live.”

Participants carried posters and placards along the two-mile-long route, calling attention to recent murders and lynching attacks—one proclaimed that “America has lynched without trial 2,867 Negroes in 31 years and not a single murderer has suffered.” The protests also took aim at President Woodrow Wilson, who had campaigned on a pro-civil rights platform, but had repeatedly disappointed Black reform leaders with his actions, which included allowing for the re-segregation of several federal government departments, and a failure to pass anti-lynching legislation.

The march was unlike anything New York—and America—had ever seen. There were no incidents of violence, and no arrests. The New York Times called it, “one of the most quiet and orderly demonstrations ever witnessed.” Despite the peaceful protest, attacks on African Americans continued, including the Chicago Race Riot of 1919, which lasted nearly a week and left 23 Blacks people and 13 white people dead (with more than 500 injured) just two years later.

More than a century after the “Silent Parade,” America continues to grapple with its legacy of racial inequality.


Silent Protest Parade in 1917 Set the Stage for Civil Rights Marches

The only sounds were those of muffled drums, the shuffling of feet and the gentle sobs of some of the estimated 20,000 onlookers. The women and children wore all white. The men dressed in black.

On the afternoon of Saturday, July 28, 1917, nearly 10,000 African-Americans marched down Fifth Avenue, in silence, to protest racial violence and white supremacy in the United States.

New York City, and the nation, had never before witnessed such a remarkable scene.

The “Silent Protest Parade,” as it came to be known, was the first mass African-American demonstration of its kind and marked a watershed moment in the history of the civil rights movement.

As I have written in my book “Torchbearers of Democracy,” African-Americans during the World War I era challenged racism both abroad and at home. In taking to the streets to dramatize the brutal treatment of black people, the participants of the “Silent Protest Parade” indicted the United States as an unjust nation. This charge remains true today.

One hundred years later, as black people continue to insist that “Black Lives Matter,” the “Silent Protest Parade” offers a vivid reminder about the power of courageous leadership, grassroots mobilization, direct action and their collective necessity in the fight to end racial oppression.

One of the great accomplishments of the Black Lives Matter movement has been to demonstrate the continuum of racist violence against black people throughout American history and also the history of resistance against it. But as we continue to grapple with the hyper-visibility of black death, it is perhaps easy to forget just how truly horrific racial violence against black people was a century ago.

Prior to the “Silent Protest Parade,” mob violence and the lynching of African-Americans had grown even more gruesome. In Waco, a mob of 10,000 white Texans attended the May 15, 1916, lynching of a black farmer, Jesse Washington. One year later, on May 22, 1917, a black woodcutter, Ell Persons, died at the hands of over 5,000 vengeance-seeking whites in Memphis.

Even by these grisly standards, East St. Louis later that same summer was shocking. Simmering labor tensions between white and black workers exploded on the evening of July 2, 1917.

For 24 hours, white mobs indiscriminately stabbed, shot and lynched anyone with black skin. Men, women, children, the elderly, the disabled — no one was spared. Homes were torched and occupants shot down as they attempted to flee. The death toll likely ran as high as 200 people.

The city’s surviving 6,000 black residents became refugees.

East St. Louis was an American pogrom. The fearless African-American anti-lynching activist Ida B. Wells traveled to the still smoldering city on July 4 and collected firsthand accounts of the aftermath. She described the incident as an “awful orgy of human butchery.”

The devastation of East St. Louis was compounded by the fact that America was at war. On April 2, President Woodrow Wilson had thrown the United States into the maelstrom of World War I. He did so by asserting America’s singularly unique place on the global stage and his goal to make the world “safe for democracy.” In the eyes of black people, East St. Louis exposed the hypocrisy of Wilson’s vision and America itself.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People quickly responded to the massacre. Founded in 1909, the NAACP had yet to establish itself as a truly representative organization for African-Americans. With the exception of W.E.B. Du Bois, one of the NAACP’s co-founders and editor of The Crisis magazine, the national leadership was all white. Branches were overwhelmingly located in the North, despite the majority of African-Americans residing below the Mason-Dixon line.

James Weldon Johnson changed things. Lawyer, diplomat, novelist, poet and songwriter, Johnson was a true African-American renaissance man. In 1916, Johnson joined the NAACP as a field secretary and made an immediate impact. In addition to growing the organization’s southern membership, Johnson recognized the importance of expanding the influence of the NAACP’s existing branches beyond the black elite.

Johnson raised the idea of a silent protest march at an executive committee meeting of the NAACP Harlem branch shortly after the East St. Louis riot. Johnson also insisted that the protest include the city’s entire black community.

By noon on July 28, several thousand African-Americans had begun to assemble at 59th Street. Crowds gathered along Fifth Avenue. Anxious New York City police officers lined the streets, with clubs at the ready, prepared for trouble.

At approximately 1 p.m., the protest parade commenced. A group of black clergymen and NAACP officials made up the front line. W.E.B. Du Bois, who had recently returned from conducting an NAACP investigation in East St. Louis, and James Weldon Johnson marched side by side.

The parade was a stunning spectacle. At the front, women and children wearing all-white gowns symbolized the innocence of African-Americans in the face of the nation’s guilt. The men, bringing up the rear and dressed in dark suits, conveyed both a mournful dignity and stern determination to stand up for their rights as citizens.

They carried signs and banners shaming America for its treatment of black people. Some read, “Your hands are full of blood,” “Thou Shalt Not Kill,” “Mothers, do lynchers go to heaven?” Others highlighted the wartime context and the hollowness of America’s ideals: “We have fought for the liberty of white Americans in six wars our reward was East St. Louis.”

Throughout the parade, the marchers remained silent. The New York Times described the protest as “one of the most quiet and orderly demonstrations ever witnessed.” The silence was finally broken with cheers when the parade concluded at Madison Square.

The “Silent Protest Parade” marked the beginning of a new epoch in the long black freedom struggle. While adhering to a certain politics of respectability, a strategy employed by African-Americans that focused on countering racist stereotypes through dignified appearance and behavior, the protest, within its context, constituted a radical claiming of the public sphere and a powerful affirmation of black humanity. It declared that a “New Negro” had arrived and launched a black public protest tradition that would be seen in the parades of the Universal Negro Improvement Association, the civil rights demonstrations of the 1960s and the Black Lives Matter marches of today.


Contents

East St. Louis riots Edit

Prior to May 1917, there began a migration of blacks fleeing threats to life and liberty in the South. Tensions in East St. Louis, Illinois, were brewing between white and black workers. Many black workers had found work in the local industry. In Spring 1917, the mostly white workers of the Aluminum Ore Company voted for a labor strike and the Company recruited hundreds of black workers to replace them. [3] The situation exploded after rumors of black men and white women fraternizing began to circulate. [4] [5] Thousands of white men descended on East St. Louis and began attacking African Americans. They destroyed buildings and beat people. The rioting died down, only to rise with vigor again several weeks later. After an incident in which a police officer was shot by black residents of the city, thousands of whites marched and rioted in the city again. The Encyclopedia of the Harlem Rennaissance states that "Eyewitnesses likened the mob to a manhunt, describing how rioters sought out blacks to beat, mutilate, stab, shoot, hang, and burn." [2]

The brutality of the attacks by mobs of white people and the refusal by the authorities to protect innocent lives contributed to the responsive measures taken by some African Americans in St. Louis and the nation. [6] Marcus Garvey declared in a speech that the riot was "one of the bloodiest outrages against mankind" and a "wholesale massacre of our people", insisting that "This is no time for fine words, but a time to lift one's voice against the savagery of a people who claim to be the dispensers of democracy." [7] [8] After the riots, many black people felt that there was little "possibility of the United States ever permitting black people to enjoy full citizenship, equal rights and dignity." [9]

Writers and civil rights activists, W.E.B DuBois and Martha Gruening visited the city after the riot on July 2 in order to speak to witnesses and survivors. [10] They wrote an essay describing the riots in "gruesome detail" for The Crisis, an NAACP publication. [10] [11]

Planning a response Edit

James Weldon Johnson, the Field Secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), [12] [13] worked with a group of influential community leaders at the St. Philip's Church in New York to decide how to protest the riots. [14] [15] The idea of a silent protest had first been suggested in a 1916 NAACP Conference by Oswald Garrison Villard. [15] Black women in New York had also participated in earlier silent parades with white women, like the June 1917 silent parade in support of the Red Cross. [16] Villard's mother, Fanny Garrison Villard, had organized a silent march for suffragettes in New York in 1913. [9] However, for this protest, organizers felt that it was important that only black people participate because they were the main victims of the recent violence. [15]

Two prominent members of the local clergy were tapped to serve as the executives for the parade. Rev. Dr. Hutchens C. Bishop, rector of the city's oldest Black Episcopal parish, and Rev. Dr. Charles D. Martin, founder of the Fourth Moravian Church, respectively, served as the President, and Secretary for the parade. [1] With "righteous indignation", Dr. Martin wrote the call to action entitled simply "Why We March". It laid out the rationale for the protest, and was distributed before [1] and during [17] the parade.

The parade was advertised in The New York Age where it was described as a "mute but solemn protest against the atrocities and discrimination practiced against the race in various parts of the country." [18] Men, women and children alike were invited to take part. It was hoped that around ten thousand people would be able to participate, and that African Americans in other cities might hold their own parades. [18] [19] The New York parade was announced ahead of time in other cities as well. [20] [21] [22]

In the midst of record heat [23] in New York City on July 28, an estimated 8,000 to 15,000 African Americans [24] [25] marched in silent protest to the lynchings, as in Waco, Memphis, and especially the East St. Louis riots. The march began at 57th Street, down Fifth Avenue, to its end at 23rd Street. [23] Protesters carried signs that highlighted their discontent. Some signs and banners appealed directly to President Woodrow Wilson. [9] A mounted police escort led the parade. Women and children were next, dressed in white. They were followed by the men, dressed in black. [6] [2] People of all races looked on from both sides of Fifth Avenue. The New York Age estimated that "fully fifteen thousand Negroes, who should have taken an active part, looked on." [23] Black boy scouts handed out fliers describing why they were marching. [17] During the parade, white people stopped to listen to black people explain the reasons for the march and other white bystanders expressed support and sympathy. [23] Some of the messages written on fliers were: [26]

We march because by the Grace of God and the force of truth, the dangerous, hampering walls of prejudice and inhuman injustices must fall. We march because we deem it a crime to be silent in the face of such barbaric acts. We march because we want our children to live a better life and enjoy fairer conditions than have fallen to our lot.

The parade marked the first large black-only protest parade in New York. [27] The New York Times described it the following day: [24]

To the beat of muffled drums 8,000 negro men, women and children marched down Fifth Avenue yesterday in a parade of "silent protest against acts of discrimination and oppression" inflicted upon them in this country, and in other parts of the world. Without a shout or a cheer they made their cause known through many banners which they carried, calling attention to "Jim Crowism," segregation, disenfranchisement, and the riots of Waco, Memphis, and East St. Louis.

Media coverage of the march helped to counter the dehumanization of black people in the United States. [17] The parade and its coverage helped depict the NAACP as a "well-organized and mannerly group" and also helped increase its visibility both among white and black people alike. [28]

Marchers hoped to influence Democratic President Wilson to carry through on his election promises to African American voters to implement anti-lynching legislation and promote Black causes. Four days after the silent parade, black leaders involved in the protest, including Madame C.J. Walker, went to Washington D.C. for a planned appointment with the president. [29] The appointment was not kept, as the group of leaders were told that Wilson had "another appointment." [29] They left their petition for Wilson, which reminded him of African Americans serving in World War I and urged him to prevent riots and lynchings in the future. [29] Wilson did not do so and repudiated his promises. Federal discrimination against African Americans significantly increased under the Wilson administration. [30]

Organizers and leadership Edit

While the parade was put on under the banner of the Harlem branch of the NAACP, a who's who of the Church and business community helped plan the event. The issue of the NAACP The Crisis magazine which described the parade quotes the New York World this way: [31]

The Rev. Dr. H. C. Bishop was President of the parade. The Rev. Dr. Charles D. Martin was Secretary. The Rev. F. A. Cullen was Vice President. The first Deputy Marshal was J. Rosamond Johnson. Others were A. B. Cosey, C. H. Payne, formerly a member of Troop A, Ninth Cavalry the Rev. E. W. Daniels [sic], Allen Wood, James W. Johnson and John Nail, Jr. Rev. G. M. Plaskett and Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois were in the line of officers.

The parade was the very first protest of its kind in New York, and the second instance of African Americans publicly demonstrating for civil rights. [32] The Silent Parade evoked empathy by Jewish people who remembered pogroms against them and also inspired the media to express support of African Americans in their struggle against lynching and oppression. [33]

Another large silent parade took place in Newark in 1918. On the day before the parade, members of the NAACP spoke at local churches about the parade and the Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill. [34] Women from the New Jersey Federation of Colored Women's Clubs (NJFCWC) marched along with men and other women carrying signs. [34] A large meeting was held in the Newark Armory when the parade was complete. [34] Another NAACP-sponsored silent march happened on August 26, 1989 to protest recent Supreme Court decisions. The U.S. Park Service estimated over 35,000 people participated. [35] The march was encouraged by NAACP director, Benjamin L. Hooks. [36]

In East St. Louis, there was a week-long commemoration of the riots and march in the weeks prior to the 100th anniversary on July 28, 2017. [37] Around 300 people marched from the SIUE East St. Louis Higher Learning Center to the Eads Bridge. [38] Everyone marched in silence, with many women in white and men wearing black suits. Those who couldn't walk followed by car. [38]

On the 100th anniversary, Google commemorated the parade in a Google Doodle. [39] Many people in 2017 expressed online that they first learned about the Silent Parade through the day's Google Doodle. [40]

A group of artists, along with the NAACP, planned a re-enactment of the silent march in New York for the evening on July 28, 2017. [41] The event, with around 100 people and many participants wearing white, was not able to march down Fifth Avenue because the city would not grant access due to Trump Tower being located there. [42] The commemoration took place on Sixth Avenue instead, and the group held up portraits of contemporary victims of violence by both police and vigilantes in the United States. [42]


From the Silent Protest Parade to Black Lives Matter: 100 years on, the First Mass African-American Demo Remains Shamefully Relevant

The only sounds were those of muffled drums, the shuffling of feet and the gentle sobs of some of the estimated 20,000 onlookers. The women and children wore all white. The men dressed in black.

On the afternoon of Saturday, July 28, 1917, nearly 10,000 African-Americans marched down Fifth Avenue, in silence, to protest racial violence and white supremacy in the United States.

New York City, and the nation, had never before witnessed such a remarkable scene.

The "Silent Protest Parade," as it came to be known, was the first mass African-American demonstration of its kind and marked a watershed moment in the history of the civil rights movement. As I have written in my book "Torchbearers of Democracy," African-Americans during the World War I era challenged racism both abroad and at home. In taking to the streets to dramatize the brutal treatment of black people, the participants of the "Silent Protest Parade" indicted the United States as an unjust nation.

This charge remains true today.

One hundred years later, as black people continue to insist that "Black Lives Matter," the "Silent Protest Parade" offers a vivid reminder about the power of courageous leadership, grassroots mobilization, direct action and their collective necessity in the fight to end racial oppression in our current troubled times.

Racial violence and the East St. Louis Riot

One of the great accomplishments of the Black Lives Matter movement has been to demonstrate the continuum of racist violence against black people throughout American history and also the history of resistance against it. But as we continue to grapple with the hyper-visibility of black death, it is perhaps easy to forget just how truly horrific racial violence against black people was a century ago.

Prior to the "Silent Protest Parade," mob violence and the lynching of African-Americans had grown even more gruesome. In Waco, a mob of 10,000 white Texans attended the May 15, 1916, lynching of a black farmer, Jesse Washington. One year later, on May 22, 1917, a black woodcutter, Ell Persons, died at the hands of over 5,000 vengeance-seeking whites in Memphis. Both men were burned and mutilated, their charred body parts distributed and displayed as souvenirs.

Even by these grisly standards, East St. Louis later that same summer was shocking. Simmering labor tensions between white and black workers exploded on the evening of July 2, 1917.

For 24 hours, white mobs indiscriminately stabbed, shot and lynched anyone with black skin. Men, women, children, the elderly, the disabled &ndash no one was spared. Homes were torched and occupants shot down as they attempted to flee. White militia men stood idly by as the carnage unfolded. Some actively participated. The death toll likely ran as high as 200 people.

The city's surviving 6,000 black residents became refugees.

East St. Louis was an American pogrom. The fearless African-American anti-lynching activist Ida B. Wells traveled to the still smoldering city on July 4 and collected firsthand accounts of the aftermath. She described what she saw as an "awful orgy of human butchery."

The devastation of East St. Louis was compounded by the fact that America was at war. On April 2, President Woodrow Wilson had thrown the United States into the maelstrom of World War I. He did so by asserting America's singularly unique place on the global stage and his goal to make the world "safe for democracy." In the eyes of black people, East St. Louis exposed the hypocrisy of Wilson's vision and America itself.

The NAACP takes action

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People quickly responded to the massacre. Founded in 1909, the NAACP had yet to establish itself as a truly representative organization for African-Americans across the country. With the exception of W.E.B. Du Bois, one of the NAACP's co-founders and editor of The Crisis magazine, the national leadership was all white. Branches were overwhelmingly located in the North, despite the majority of African-Americans residing below the Mason-Dixon line. As a result, the NAACP had largely failed to respond with a sense of urgency to the everyday horrors endured by the masses of black folk.

James Weldon Johnson changed things. Lawyer, diplomat, novelist, poet and songwriter, Johnson was a true African-American renaissance man. In 1916, Johnson joined the NAACP as a field secretary and made an immediate impact. In addition to growing the organization's southern membership, Johnson recognized the importance of expanding the influence of the NAACP's existing branches beyond the black elite.

Johnson raised the idea of a silent protest march at an executive committee meeting of the NAACP Harlem branch shortly after the East St. Louis riot. Johnson also insisted that the protest include the city's entire black community. Planning quickly got underway, spearheaded by Johnson and local black clergymen.

A historic day

By noon on July 28, several thousand African-Americans had begun to assemble at 59th Street. Crowds gathered along Fifth Avenue. Anxious New York City police officers lined the streets, aware of what was about to take place but, with clubs at the ready, prepared for trouble.

At approximately 1 p.m., the protest parade commenced. Four men carrying drums began to slowly, solemnly play. A group of black clergymen and NAACP officials made up the front line. W.E.B. Du Bois, who had recently returned from conducting an NAACP investigation in East St. Louis, and James Weldon Johnson marched side by side.

The parade was a stunning spectacle. At the front, women and children wearing all-white gowns symbolized the innocence of African-Americans in the face of the nation's guilt. The men, bringing up the rear and dressed in dark suits, conveyed both a mournful dignity and stern determination to stand up for their rights as citizens.

They carried signs and banners shaming America for its treatment of black people. Some read, "Your hands are full of blood," "Thou Shalt Not Kill," "Mothers, do lynchers go to heaven?" Others highlighted the wartime context and the hollowness of America's ideals: "We have fought for the liberty of white Americans in six wars our reward was East St. Louis," "Patriotism and loyalty presuppose protection and liberty," "Make America safe for Democracy."

Throughout the parade, the marchers remained silent. The New York Times described the protest as "one of the most quiet and orderly demonstrations ever witnessed." The silence was finally broken with cheers when the parade concluded at Madison Square.

Legacy of the Silent Protest Parade

The "Silent Protest Parade" marked the beginning of a new epoch in the long black freedom struggle. While adhering to a certain politics of respectability, a strategy employed by African-Americans that focused on countering racist stereotypes through dignified appearance and behavior, the protest, within its context, constituted a radical claiming of the public sphere and a powerful affirmation of black humanity. It declared that a "New Negro" had arrived and launched a black public protest tradition that would be seen in the parades of the Universal Negro Improvement Association, the civil rights demonstrations of the 1960s and the Black Lives Matter marches of today.

The "Silent Protest Parade" reminds us that the fight against racist violence and the killing of black people remains just as relevant now as it did 100 years ago. Black death, whether at the hands of a Baton Rouge police officer or white supremacist in Charleston, is a specter that continues to haunt this nation. The expendability of black bodies is American tradition, and history speaks to the long endurance of this violent legacy.

But history also offers inspiration, purpose and vision.

Ida B. Wells, James Weldon Johnson and other freedom fighters of their generation should serve as models for activists today. That the "Silent Protest Parade" attracted black people from all walks of life and backgrounds attests to the need for organizations like the NAACP, following its recent national convention, to remember and embrace its origins. And, in building and sustaining the current movement, we can take lessons from past struggles and work strategically and creatively to apply them to the present.

Because, at their core, the demands of black people in 2017 remain the same as one of the signs raised to the sky on that July afternoon in 1917:

Chad Williams, associate professor of African and Afro-American Studies, Brandeis University.


The legacy of the sit-in movement

The sit-in movement produced a new sense of pride and power for African Americans. By rising up on their own and achieving substantial success protesting against segregation in the society in which they lived, Blacks realized that they could change their communities with local coordinated action. For many white Southerners, the sit-in movement demonstrated Blacks’ dissatisfaction with the status quo and showed that economic harm could come to white-owned businesses unless they desegregated peacefully. The sit-in movement proved the inevitability of the end of the Jim Crow system. Most of the success in actual desegregation came in the upper Southern states, such as in cities in Arkansas, Maryland, North Carolina, and Tennessee. On the other hand, no cities in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, or South Carolina desegregated as a result of the sit-in movement.

The sit-in movement marked the first major effort by thousands of local Blacks in civil rights activism. However, the sit-ins failed to create the kind of national attention necessary for any federal intervention. Although SNCC did develop out of the sit-in movement, becoming a permanent organization separate from CORE and the SCLC, the sit-ins faded out by the end of 1960. A new phase of Black protest arose in the form of Freedom Rides, and new coordinated white resistance changed the tactics of civil rights leaders, dramatically raising the level and degree of violence by white civil rights opponents.


This Photo of MLK Kneeling Has New Power Amid the NFL Protests. Here’s the Story Behind It

A photo of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and other marchers for civil rights kneeling in prayer Selma, Alabama has gone viral in the wake of President Donald Trump’s ongoing criticism of professional athletes who kneel in protest during the National Anthem.

The image, taken in 1965, shows King leading a prayer after a group of protesters were arrested during a march to the Dallas County Alabama courthouse. Around 250 people were arrested during the demonstration, which was part of a push to get African Americans in Selma registered to vote. Among those praying with King is Ralph Abernathy, a fellow minister and leader of the Civil Rights movement.

The photo been shared by both the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change and the civil rights leader’s youngest child, Bernice King, on social media.

The sports world’s kneeling controversy began last year, when former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee as the National Anthem was played before football games in protest of the unequal treatment that people of color face in the U.S.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL Media last August.

Since then, other players across the National Football League have taken to sitting out the national anthem as well. That act of civil disobedience has drawn the ire of many, including President Donald Trump, who argue the players are disrespecting the American flag and the men and women who serve in the U.S. military.

&ldquoWouldn&rsquot you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, &lsquoGet that son of a bitch off the field right now, out,'” Trump said at a political rally on Friday. “He&rsquos fired. He&rsquos fired!”

Those who support the protests, including the younger King, who serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the King Center, say the root issue is the fact that people of color are still fighting for equal treatment under the law.


Remembering the NAACP’s Silent Protest Parade, a 1917 March Against Racial Terror

Photograph of the 1917 NAACP Silent Protest Parade by Underwood and Underwood (courtesy James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection of African American Arts and Letters, Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)

The silence of the marching people can be sensed even in the sepia-toned photographs, which show women and children dressed in white, followed by men in somber black suits. Banners held aloft sound slogans like “Thou Shalt Not Kill” and “Your Hands Are Full of Blood,” while at the front, a line of drummers provides the only cadence, aside from the rhythm of walking feet. The July 28, 1917, NAACP Silent Protest Parade in New York City is recognized as one of the earliest African American civil rights demonstrations, but remains obscure in popular history. To mark its 100th anniversary, the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University has organized a small display of photographs from the James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection.

The four photographs by Underwood and Underwood are part of an archive of art and manuscripts formed in 1941, after the activist, diplomat, and author James Weldon Johnson was killed when his car was hit by a train. Yale commemorated the collection’s 75th year with a 2016 exhibition, and it featured in the more recent show Gather Out of Star-Dust: The Harlem Renaissance & The Beinecke Library. “The photographs of the event attest not only to its political weight, but also to its beauty, to a portentousness that seems to have been carefully scripted and managed,” Melissa Barton, organizer of these exhibitions and curator of prose and drama for the Yale Collection of American Literature, which includes the James Weldon Johnson archive, told Hyperallergic.

“Remembering the Silent Protest Parade exposes the history to the many people who have never been informed about it and encourages research into the march and similar events,” Dante Haughton, a junior at Skidmore College and a summer intern working on the display at the Beinecke Library, told Hyperallergic. “Some will be upset that they have never been taught about the parade or the East St. Louis massacre [which inspired it] and want to know about other ignored events in our past and how/why they are led to be forgotten.”

In the video below, created by another intern, Yale School of Art MFA student Shikeith Cathey, Haughton reads the 1917 “call to march”:

According to the Beinecke, Johnson, who was an NAACP field secretary, conceived of the Silent Protest Parade, which was then organized by the NAACP in collaboration with community and church leaders. It drew an estimated 10,000 people, who walked down Fifth Avenue in Manhattan from 55th and 59th Streets to Madison Square. The protest was organized following the staggering brutality of the East St. Louis race riots, which left between 50 and 200 African Americans dead and thousands of others without homes, after their neighborhoods were burned by white mobs. Yet the violence that Johnson and other marchers, including W. E. B. Du Bois and Reverend Hutchens Chew Bishop, were responding to was deeper, sustained by a government that allowed Jim Crow laws and lynchings to go unchecked.

In a petition to the White House, the marchers called on President Woodrow Wilson to take action, stating that in the “last thirty-one years 2,867 colored men and women have been lynched by mobs without trial. … We believe that this spirit of lawlessness is doing untold injury to our country and we submit that the record proves that the States are either unwilling or unable to put down lynching and mob violence.”

The organizers ended their list of “why do we march” reasons with:

We march because the growing consciousness and solidarity of race coupled with sorrow and discrimination have made us one: a union that may never be dissolved in spite of shallow-brained agitators, scheming pundits and political tricksters who secure a fleeting popularity and uncertain financial support by promoting the disunion of a people who ought to consider themselves as one.

Much more terror was to come, including the “Red Summer” of 1919, which saw race riots in Nebraska, Chicago, Washington, DC, and Tennessee. Yet the Silent Protest Parade showed the potential for public demonstration before the dawn of the Civil Rights movement. As James Weldon Johnson later reflected, “The streets of New York have witnessed many strange sights, but, I judge, never one stranger than this certainly, never one more impressive.”

Photograph of the 1917 NAACP Silent Protest Parade by Underwood and Underwood (courtesy James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection of African American Arts and Letters, Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)

The call to the march by the organizing committee of the 1917 NAACP Silent Protest Parade (courtesy James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection of African American Arts and Letters, Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)

Photograph of the 1917 NAACP Silent Protest Parade by Underwood and Underwood (courtesy James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection of African American Arts and Letters, Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)

Petition on lynching to the White House from the 1917 NAACP Silent Protest Parade (courtesy James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection of African American Arts and Letters, Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)

Photograph of the 1917 NAACP Silent Protest Parade by Underwood and Underwood (courtesy James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection of African American Arts and Letters, Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)

Petition to the White House from the 1917 NAACP Silent Protest Parade (courtesy James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection of African American Arts and Letters, Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)

The display of photographs from the 1917 NAACP Silent Protest Parade continues at the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library (Yale University, 121 Wall Street, New Haven, CT) through July 30.


US History Protest from Suffrage to Civil Rights Print & Digital

This unit comes in two versions: paper PDF and digital for Google Slides.

Check out the Preview for a detailed look at this compelling unit or download the FREE Unit Overview.

Greatness is exercising one’s own rights while not violating the rights of others.

America was birthed from the ultimate protest- an outright rebellion- and we couldn’t be prouder. Many of our greatest national heroes were unceasing protesters. Yet, today, we seem to grumble at those in the streets for their disruption. Why is that so?

Introduce your students to various American groups- women, ethnic minorities, young adults- who used their core values, their unwavering passion, and their clever strategies to make this nation more perfect through their first amendment rights and challenge your students to answer for themselves, How patriotic is protest?

Then, empower your students to research a company to vote with their dollars by deciding to continue spending money with them or not, culminating a powerful yet formal business letter in a Boycott / Buycott Letter Project.

This unit can be done well in anywhere from 4-6 weeks!

Included in this complete unit:

  • Teacher Unit Overview with general notes, links, standards, and a pacing guide
  • Daily Lesson Plans with step-by-step details, planning, and lesson takeaway notes
  • Detailed Answer Keys for each activity
  • PowerPoint file of images and student directions (can be easily converted to Google Slides)
  • Student Unit Review and Skills handouts with self-checking questions and "I Can. " statements
  • Student Unit Notes sheet for building deep and nuanced mastery of concepts over the course of the unit using powerful graphic organizers
  • Student Skill Handouts that include Annotating a Source, Analyzing Image Sources, Analyzing News Media Sources, Deciding a Precise Position, Creating a Thesis Statement, Including Evidence, Creating a Works Cited, Annotating a Citation, Annotating a Works Cited

Student Activities

  • Modern Day examine and assess the strategies used by several recent protests
  • Quote Speed Dating start the conversation of ideas about protest, free speech, and patriotism
  • Founding Thoughts analyze the Founding Fathers’ and the Supreme Court’s positions on free speech
  • Silent Sentinels learn the story of this persistent and largely unknown group who brought the 19th Amendment to fruition
  • Japanese American Internment flip protest and patriotism on their heads with this unusual example of resistance
  • Sit-In Movement examine at the origins of the now often-used strategy
  • Alcatraz Occupation explore this incredible and often overlooked story of tribal sovereignty

2 Summative Assessments

  • End-of-Unit Essay support your students with detailed instructions, outline template, sentence stems, step-by-step PPT slides, and rubrics, that encapsulates their complete understanding by answering the not-so-simple question, “How patriotic is protest?”
  • Boycott / “Buycott” Letter Project, guide students in researching a company they purchase from to decide if they want their dollars supporting it, then crafting a persuasive yet formal business letter declaring their boycott or "boycott" of the company

Note to Homeschoolers

Though the included teacher lesson plans are written to fully support a traditional classroom teacher, this unit is also a great fit for your teenage homeschooler:

  • the inquiry, thematic structure of this unit is driven more by critical thinking, reading, and writing skills and a central high-interest question than any one set of state-specific, grade-specific content standards
  • a wide age and ability range can easily access the rich variety of sources utilized in this unit, making it perfect for a multi-grade group
  • your student’s voice is central to each activity, through talking out their learning, maximizing the one-on-one
  • activities can be completed independently and aren’t solely reliant on group or whole-class work
  • all utilized sources are included nothing needs to be purchased to supplement
  • this unit is independent of a textbook, though one could be used for greater background knowledge
  • any activity can easily be left out to customize for your student’s skill level or personal interest

Just want part of this unit?

Silent Sentinels DBQ Mini-Unit: round out your Progressive Era unit with this in-depth inquiry

Sit-In Movement DBQ Mini-Unit: round out your Civil Rights Movement unit with this in-depth inquiry

Free Speech Protest Sign Project: strengthen any protest unit from Abolition to Vietnam War

Boycott / “Buycott” Business Letter Project: pair with any activism topic

Want more U.S. History PBL Units?

Six Degrees of Separation: kick off a study of our country’s political and physical geography with a “Flat Stanley” style project

1600-1800s American Values: explore the founders of America, from the Puritans to the Nez Perce, and their core values in order to develop one’s own goal and motivational plan of action for the school year

1900s American Immigration: explore the American story of diversity and hard work through the words and statistics of immigrants, Ellis Island to Angel Island, to create and preserve an oral history of their own

1900s American Heroes: explore what it means to be a hero from Madam CJ Walker to John Glenn in order to nominate one’s own hero for recognition

Want to go entirely PBL?

U.S. History PBL Course Bundle: get all U.S. History PBL resources in one download and save big!

This listing is for one license for regular, non-commercial classroom use by a single teacher only. In upholding copyright law, PDF resources are uneditable and resources made for Google Classroom have some editing abilities. By purchasing a license to this resource, you have access to all future updates at no cost, available under “My Purchases". Multiple and transferable licenses are available for purchase. To request a complete terms of use prior to purchase or if you have any questions about this resource, please leave a question below under Product Q&A.


The past century of race, riot and protest in the United States: A brief timeline

Hundreds of local Tucson protesters surrounding the stage where BLM speakers spoke their thoughts during the July 6 Celebration of Black Lives on the University of Arizona Mall.

Published Jul 6, 2020 10:37pm

Updated Jul 6, 2020 10:38pm

One hundred years before the Black Lives Matter movement, diverse communities across the U.S. stood up in solidarity against social injustice like police brutality. Black Americans battled police brutality through the power of protests, riots and social uprisings.

According to Tyina Steptoe, a University of Arizona Department of History associate professor who specializes in race, gender and culture at the UA, the language used to describe these events can indicate biases.

"When we say uprising, it forces us to remember that this isn't just some random outbreak of violence, that there are other issues that are provoking people in those communities to act in that way," Steptoe said. "If we just say riot, it just seems like some people mindlessly tearing things up. But if we say an uprising against police violence, it tells you more what the purpose of it was."

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Steptoe said the difference between these terms — protest, riot and social uprising — happens to be more often about who's doing the writing, who's doing the describing.

The following timeline is comprised of significant historical events that lead up to the Black Lives Matter movement in chronological order.

1917 Houston Riot - Aug. 23, 1917:

On Aug. 23, 1917, several white male police officers raided a Black woman’s home, dragged her outside and brutally beat her in the middle of the street.

A young Black soldier named Alonso Edwards attempted to intervene in the altercation and was pistol-whipped by the police officers and arrested, according to the Houston Chronicle.

What ensued next was an absolute uproar over the treatment of the Black woman and soldier.

Local Black soldiers from the 24th Infantry Regiment in Camp Logan rioted throughout Houston. The 1917 Houston riot resulted in a citywide curfew the following day. The riot left 16 dead and 22 injured, most of whom were white citizens, according to the Houston Press.

The Houston riot led to 63 soldiers receiving life sentences in prison and 13 soldiers being hanged. No white civilians were brought to trial, the white officers faced courts-martial but were released, according to the Texas State Historical Association.

“It was over 100 years ago. And I keep seeing glimmers of this — again and again — today. When you put all these examples [of social uprisings] together, the root of the issue often comes back to this very same thing over power in space,” Steptoe said.

The 1917 Houston riot was one of the first major rebellions against police brutality. The uprising brought more awareness to the public about the tense relations between police and Black communities.

Leading Up to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s:

Prior to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, Black people in the U.S. had fought as soldiers during many wars including World War II.

“Black soldiers went into World War II still segregated and fought for the nation. I think World War II was kind of a turning point. You cannot fight Nazism and the Final Solution in the Holocaust and come back and segregate and just beat people for the color of their skin," said Lora Key, a UA Department of History adjunct professor.

After the end of World War II in 1945, the fight for racial equality raged on.

In 1954, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case of Brown v. Board of Education desegregated schools and led to the beginning of other civil rights legislation. However, legislation did not come easy during the Civil Rights Movement and even Brown v. Board of Education had unforeseen setbacks for Black teachers, according to an article from the Online Journal of Rural Research and Policy.

"Roughly 82,000 black teachers were a part of the national teaching force leading up to the 1954 Brown decision. That number would drop by the tens of thousands following the decision," said Mallory Lutz, author of the Online Journal of Rural Research and Policy article on Brown v. Board of Education.

The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, a brief overview

Starting in 1961, activists began fighting segregation as the Freedom Riders in an attempt to move legislation forward in integrating the Southern bus lines.

On Aug. 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in Washington D.C. Less than a month later in September 1963, four young Black girls were killed during the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.

Participants, some carrying American flags, marching in the civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965 | Library of Congress | Peter Pettus

“In 1964, you get the killing of three civil rights activists: Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner. And that started to make a lot of people fed up. Then in 1965, during the movement for voting rights in Selma, Alabama, at least two non-violent activists were murdered in the Selma area,” Steptoe said. “So in 1965, that becomes a sort of turning point for a lot of the young activists in the movement. They started saying, wait a minute, okay, how many non-violent activists are now being murdered? And thinking enough is enough.”

Tensions between Black and white citizens were high. Black communities began to protest racial injustices by marches, sit-ins and strikes at a local and national level. The protests were successful and national legislation was passed.

In July of 1964, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was enacted, followed by the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and an expansion on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in 1968.

Martin Luther King Jr. maintained "peaceful protests" throughout the Civil Rights Movement. King’s words and legacy have inspired many activists since the movement of the 1960s to stand up for what is right.

“The time is always right to do what is right,” King said in 1964.

The 1992 L.A. Riots: April 29 - May 4, 1992

On March 3, 1991, Rodney King was engaged in a high-speed chase with the Los Angeles Police Department throughout Los Angeles. Once he pulled over, King was forced from his vehicle and was brutally beaten by a group of white LAPD officers while over a dozen officers stood by watching the event unfold.

The beating was filmed by a bystander and spread like wildfire throughout the media.

The beating left King with "skull fractures, broken bones and teeth, and permanent brain damage," according to NPR.

Over a year later, on April 29, 1992, four LAPD officers were acquitted on charges of beating King. The city erupted in riots in response to the acquittal of the officers and the lack of justice served.

In response to the riots, the local government called for a state of emergency, enforced city-wide curfews, shut down freeways and deployed more than 6,000 National Guard troops to the southern California area, according to the Los Angeles Times.

March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Joachim Prinz pictured, 1963.

The Los Angeles riots left 63 dead, more than 2,000 injured and almost 12,000 arrested, according to CNN.

“[The Black community] lost faith in the judicial system and it never really had faith in the jury or judicial system, but this was the final straw,” Key said.

The loss of faith in the judicial system within the Black community is still relevant in current social justice issues.

Trayvon Martin & the beginning of the BLM movement: Feb. 26, 2012- July 13, 2013

On Feb. 26, 2012, Florida native Trayvon Martin, 17, was shot and killed by neighborhood crime watch captain, George Zimmerman, then 28, at the gated community of Retreat at Twin Lakes in Sanford, Florida.

Originally from Miami Gardens, Martin was visiting his father Tracy Martin and fiancee in Sanford and was walking back toward his house after a convenience store run, according to History.com. Upon noticing Martin, Zimmerman called the Sanford police to report suspicious activity and subsequently ignored a police dispatcher’s advice not to engage in contact with Martin.

However, Zimmerman pursued and opened fire on Martin, claiming to have taken action out of self-defense, applying the “Stand-Your-Ground” law, according to History.com. Martin was pronounced dead at the scene. Zimmerman was not arrested at the scene and was later charged with second-degree murder. The case went to triall in June of 2013.

Zimmerman pleaded ‘not guilty’ and was acquitted of all charges on July 13, according to History.com.

As a result of Zimmerman’s acquittal, #BlackLivesMatter was formed.

According to the Black Lives Matter website, the organization was founded by Alicia Garza, Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Opal Tometi.

"Black Lives Matter Foundation, Inc is a global organization in the US, UK, and Canada whose mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes," according to the website's "about" page.

"By combating and countering acts of violence, creating space for Black imagination and innovation, and centering Black joy, we are winning immediate improvements in our lives," according to the Black Lives Matter website.

Michael Brown & Ferguson Unrest:

On Aug. 9, 2014, Michael Brown, 18, was shot and killed by police officer Darren Wilson in broad daylight in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown and his friend Dorian Johnson left Ferguson Market and Liquor located on West Florissant Ave. and surveillance showed Brown stealing some cigarillos.

Officer Wilson arrived on the scene and told the two men to move to the sidewalk and made a call to the dispatcher that Brown fit the description of the convenience store thief, according to The New York Times.

Wilson fired 12 rounds in total and attested that Brown reached into the vehicle and fought for his gun. However, there are discrepancies in different sources of eyewitness testimony that cannot account for Brown’s movements as to whether or not Brown moved toward or away from Wilson and attempted to surrender, according to The New York Times.

The unrest began later that night on Aug. 9, 2014, through Nov. 24, 2014, when the grand jury in St. Louis County declined to indict Wilson, according to The Guardian.

Around 200 individuals gathered outside the Ferguson Police Department catching wind of the decision which set off civil unrest (protest/riot/uprising) that was fueled by protesters’ outrage over what they called a pattern of police brutality against young black men, according to The New York Times.

This would later be known as the Ferguson Unrest, buildings were set on fire and looting was reported in several businesses. Response from the police that included tear gas and rubber bullets and confrontations between protesters and law enforcement officers continued even after Gov. Jay Nixon deployed the National Guard to help quell the unrest, according to The New York Times.

In St. Louis, protesters swarmed Interstate 44 and blocked all traffic near the neighborhood where another man was shot by police this fall, according to The New York Times.

Thousands of protests and peaceful demonstrations took place around the country to protest the grand jury’s decision regarding the Michael Brown case, according to The New York Times.

Black Lives Matter made two commitments after what happened in Ferguson and St. Louis, “to support the team on the ground in St. Louis and to go back home and do the work there. We understood Ferguson was not an aberration, but in fact, a clear point of reference for what was happening to Black communities everywhere. When it was time for us to leave, inspired by our friends in Ferguson, organizers from 18 different cities went back home and developed Black Lives Matter chapters in their communities and towns — broadening the political will and movement building reach catalyzed by the #BlackLivesMatter project and the work on the ground in Ferguson,” according to their website.

The Black Lives Matter organization and movement did not become as widely recognized as it is now due to the Ferguson Unrest that took place. In the last six years, there have been countless Black lives lost to police brutality and these are the names of some of those individuals: Eric Garner (2014), Tamir Rice (2014), Sandra Bland (2015), Freddie Gray (2015) and Philando Castile (2016).

George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Black Lives Matter today

George Floyd, 46, was arrested and subsequently killed by the Minneapolis Police Department after a convenience store Cup Foods employee called 911 and told the police that Floyd had bought cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill on May 25, according to The New York Times.

Video evidence circulated around social media that Officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on Floyd's neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, as several other officers watched without intervening, despite Floyd's cries of "I can't breathe,” shown in the video taken by Darnella Frazier, a 17-year-old Minneapolis native. The three other officers on the scene were Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao.

Rallies took place Saturday in small towns and suburbs, drawing hundreds of people to communities that in many cases had not yet held protests, as well as in major cities where marches with masked demonstrators toting Black Lives Matters signs have quickly become part of the daily fabric of pandemic life.

The protests spread overseas to Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia.

The Black Lives Matter movement is not just a "moment" but reflects a reality, according to Steptoe.

“So many people, for the first time, realized what Black Lives Matter actually meant. So, whereas five years ago, the term Black Lives Matter scared and confused a lot of people. I think this is a very recent change, I would say and the day that the George Floyd video circulated is the day that this changed," Steptoe said. "It shows how quickly political discourse can shift. You know, it really just took a video and nationwide protests for people to start at least saying different things."

As a response to the protests taking place all over the world, Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. Chauvin was charged with second-degree murder and was awaiting trial, according to CNN.

Black Lives Matter has become a rallying cry in the last couple of months from coast to coast on all forms of social media from Facebook to Twitter to Instagram.

On the eve of March 13, in Louisville, Kentucky, 26-year-old, Breonna Taylor was shot at least eight times in her own apartment. Louisville law enforcement executed a search warrant and used a battering ram to crash into the apartment, according to The New York Times.

The police were investigating two men who they believed were selling drugs out of a house that was far from Taylor’s home. But a judge had also signed a warrant allowing the police to search Taylor’s residence because the police said they believed that one of the two men had used her apartment to receive packages. The judge’s order was a "No-Knock Warrant," which allowed the police to enter without warning or without identifying themselves as law enforcement, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.

"The police have said that they returned fire after Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, shot an officer in the leg. He later surrendered and has been charged with the attempted murder of a police officer,” The New York Times reported.

The officers involved in the altercation have not been charged with a crime. June 5 would have been Breonna Taylor’s 27th birthday. As a result, social media exploded with #sayhername to raise awareness to her case.

“Say Her Name attempts to make the death of black women an active part of this conversation, by saying their names like Tanisha Anderson and Atatiana Jefferson, whose similar stories may not have garnered as much national attention,” said Kimberlé Crenshaw, an activist and creator of the hashtag, to ABC on Friday.

On June 9, the Louisville Metro Council voted unanimously to pass Breonna’s Law, which still needs to be approved by the mayor, but it bans any search warrant that does not require police to announce themselves and their purpose at the premises. It requires any Louisville Metro Police Department or Metro law enforcement to knock and wait a minimum of 15 seconds for a response, according to NBC News.

Local communities play and have played an important role in the fight against police brutality, according to Steptoe.

“I think so frequently, the local perspective on things, really shapes who shows up what types of activism people take," Steptoe said. "For example, in a lot of parts of the country, where you see large populations of people who are of African and Mexican descent, you're seeing a lot of allyship between those communities, you're seeing a lot of solidarity around those issues because maybe those communities have had some similar struggles over the past. And in southern Arizona, I've heard a lot of people linking Black Lives Matter and the conversation over defunding the police."

The past 100 years of U.S. history is filled with instances of social uprisings against racially motivated police brutality, and these uprisings continue on each and every day.

“Change is slow. We just gotta stay prayed up, read up and vote, vote, vote,” said Doris Snowden, president of the NAACP Tucson Branch.

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Better Day Coming: Civil Rights in America in the 20th Century

The civil rights movement was bold and brave. In the South, whites outnumbered blacks by four-to-one and monopolised state power. But by strictly adhering to non-violent tactics, blacks claimed the moral high ground and gained the tactical advantage. Modelled partly on the tactics used by Gandhi in India, but mainly inspired by Christian faith and optimism about America's democratic promise, the civil rights movement tried to make racial segregation unworkable, even if it meant ignoring judges and defying policemen. Blacks now willingly went to jail rather than submit to racial segregation.

As blacks in the South became increasingly confident about the sympathy of the outside world, their protests snowballed. In 1960, black college students staged 'sit-ins' at cafeterias that served only whites. In 1961 integrated teams of black and white travellers staged bus journeys, or 'Freedom Rides', across the South, challenging segregation laws along the way.

'. the world was sickened by the sight of white mobs and club-wielding policemen attacking non-violent, hymn-singing marchers.'

In the face of these challenges, whites often reacted by arresting the protesters, and sometimes by attacking them. The Ku Klux Klan revived: it set off bombs and killed civil rights workers. But the leaders of the civil rights movement refused to be deterred by prison: King went to jail 13 times. And by maintaining a discipline and a spirit of non-violence, the movement turned the violence of its opponents to its own advantage. Newspaper reporters and television cameras inadvertently aided the movement: the world was sickened by the sight of white mobs and club-wielding policemen attacking non-violent, hymn-singing marchers.

Civil rights protests reached a crescendo in 1963-5, with dramatic confrontations in Birmingham and Selma. After the Birmingham protest, Congress passed the 1964 Civil Rights Act, banning racial segregation. The Voting Rights Act, passed in 1965, guaranteed the right to vote - a right that had already been granted in 1868, but that had been abridged in 1900.


Watch the video: 1 What was the civil rights movement m4v (February 2023).

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