blacklivesmatter

Black Lives Matter

By Megan Kern

“Coming together is a beginning; Keeping together is progress; Working together is success.” — Henry Ford

blacklivesmatterThe Year is 1968, the Civil Rights movement has culminated with the passage of the Civil Rights Act. The Act outlawed discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, required equal access to public places and employment, and enforced desegregation of schools and the right to vote.[1] What should feel like a great victory, is still tinged by heartbreak, anguish, and callousness that lead to this moment. But countering and overcoming such iniquity required hope, determination, and heroism.

The Civil Rights conflict and its progression in the United States has been documented and can be tracked through the U.S. court system. First, there was Plessy v. Ferguson that passed the “Separate but Equal” doctrine in 1896.[2] Then, nearly fifty years later, 1944, Smith v. Allwright called for racial desegregation.[3] Eight years later in 1952 Brown v. Board of Education took the stand and declared racial segregation in public schools unconstitutional and openly acknowledged that “separate but equal” education and services were not actually equal at all.[4] Finally, in 1967, Loving v. Virginia approved interracial marriages.[5] It’s interesting that today, when someone researches the Civil Rights movement, sources definitively state that the movement began in 1954 and ended in 1968. However, many understand that neither is the case.

 

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The year is 2020, nearly eighty years from what was supposedly the end of the Civil Rights movement and the beginning of true racial equality. Racial tension in the United States feels as if it’s at an all-time high as all media sources cover Black Lives Matter protesters and riots against an unjust police system. Unlike previous civil rights movements that were centralized in the United States, however, Black Lives Matter has successfully launched their international movement against systematic racism and police brutality, and protestors have been gathering around the world. The names of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Alton Sterling, Botham Jean, Atatiana Jefferson, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd– all black victims of police killings– appear in every article, radio talk show, news feed and broadcast as a reminder of BLM’s campaign and cause. Furthermore, various entertainment icons have decided to use their voices and influence to support the movement. Star Wars actor, John Boyega, participated in London’s Black Lives Matter protest on June 3rd and delivered an impassioned speech demanding justice for the innocent people who have lost their lives.[6] Variety also released that Director Steve McQueen dedicated his films “Mangrove” and “Lovers Rock” to George Floyd and all other black people who have been murdered “seen or unseen, because of who they are, in the U.S., U.K. and elsewhere.” [7] Even unanticipated figures like avenge Sevenfold’s front man, M. Shadows, spoke out and broke away from previous confederate imagery and attitudes and called on all rock and metal fans to stand with the Black Lives Matter movement.[8] Justice, change, and reform is in front of us, and as Michelle Obama personally stated, “It’s up to all of us – Black, white, everyone – no matter how well-meaning we think we might be, to do the honest, uncomfortable work of rooting it out. It starts with self-examination and listening to those whose lives are different from our own. It ends with justice, compassion, and empathy that manifests in our lives and on our streets.”[9]

[1] https://www.nps.gov/articles/civil-rights-act.htm

[2] Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896).

[3] Smith v. Allwright, 321 U.S. 649 (1944).

[4] Brown v. Board of Education, 344 U.S. 1 (1952).

[5] Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967).

[6] https://variety.com/2020/film/global/john-boyega-black-lives-matter-london-protest-george-floyd-1234624256/

[7] https://variety.com/2020/film/global/12-years-a-slave-director-steve-mcqueen-dedicates-cannes-selected-films-to-george-floyd-1234624465/

[8] https://variety.com/2020/music/news/avenged-sevenfold-singer-m-shadows-black-lives-matter-disavows-confederate-flag-1234624461/

[9] https://www.instagram.com/p/CAyhdCeAmBZ/

 

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Megan Kern is a second-year law student at Case Western Reserve University School of Law inCleveland, Ohio.