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Civil Rights Movement Archives - Institute of the Black World 21st Century

Will white people’s participation in Black Lives Matter protests yield real change?

After the civil rights era, white Americans failed to support systemic change to end racism. Will they now?

By Commentaries/Opinions

In principle, white Americans support efforts to end racism. But in practice, they have long been unwilling to support the fundamental change needed to do that. Will this year’s events change that? By Candis Watts Smith — The first wave of the Black Lives Matter movement, which crested after the 2014 police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, had the support of less than half of white Americans. Given that Americans tend…

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A demonstrator next to a fence bearing names of black people killed by police, Washington DC, June 2020.

America’s ‘Untouchables’: the Silent Power of the Caste System

By Editors' Choice

More than a century and a half before the American Revolution, a human hierarchy had evolved on the soil of the future United States. To comprehend the current upheavals one must understand the human pyramid encrypted into us all: the caste system. By Isabel Wilkerson, The Guardian — In the winter of 1959, after leading the Montgomery bus boycott that arose from the arrest of Rosa Parks and before the trials and…

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Commentary, Articles and Essays by Dr. Maulana Karenga

Lifting Up Lowery, Vivian and Lewis: Living the Legacy, Freeing the People

By Dr. Maulana Karenga

By Dr. Maulana Karenga — The recent passing of Rev. Joseph Lowery (October 6, 1921 – March 27, 2020), Rev. Cordy Tindell (C.T.) Vivian (July 30, 1924 – July 17, 2020, and Rep. John Lewis (February 21, 1940 – July 17, 2020), three major leaders of the civil rights phase of the Black Freedom Movement, rightfully causes and encourages us to lift them up and to recount and reflect on…

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"Why would $300 keep me from voting?" asks Robert Peoples of Mobile, Alabama.

A poll tax by any other name

By Editors' Choice

“Why would $300 keep me from voting?” asks Robert Peoples of Mobile, Alabama. By Dana Sweeney, Facing South — Robert Peoples remembers when African Americans won the right to vote in Alabama back in 1965. Though he was only 13 years old at the time, he had grown up in Mobile with a front-row seat to history as it was forged by a generation of ordinary Alabamians who won extraordinary…

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Congressman John Lewis — SNCC organizers, Greenwood.

The Other John Lewis I Will Always Remember

By Commentaries/Opinions

By Earl Ofari Hutchinson — The instant the news flashed that Congressman John Lewis died the expected and much deserved avalanche of tributes poured in from all corners. Trump’s tribute was in that avalanche. The tributes all pretty much followed the same pattern. Lewis was praised as a civil rights icon, courageous, unremitting, and a historic example of how a life devoted to civil rights can result in monumental changes…

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John R. Lewis, a civil rights titan and a formidable member of Congress for three decades, died at the age of 80 on July 17.

John Lewis, front-line civil rights leader and eminence of Capitol Hill, dies at 80

By News & Current Affairs

By Laurence I. Barrett, The Washington Post — John Lewis, a civil rights leader who preached nonviolence while enduring beatings and jailings during seminal front-line confrontations of the 1960s and later spent more than three decades in Congress defending the crucial gains he had helped achieve for people of color, has died. He was 80. His death was announced in statements from his family and from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi…

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Black Lives Matter Rally Photo by David Geitgey Sierralupe,

America has its knee on the necks of Black & Brown People

By Commentaries/Opinions

By Don Rojas — Today America is at a crossroads, a turning point…at an intersection of the old imperial order at home and abroad with the birthing of a new order, “a new normal” if you will. For millions of people in America, the unprecedented street uprisings of the past 10 days offer a glimmer of hope that after 350 years of oppression, meaningful change may actually be on the…

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A protester in Minneapolis on Thursday.

From the Black Panthers to Black Lives Matter, the ongoing fight to end police violence against black Americans

By Editors' Choice

By Peniel E. Joseph, The Washington Post — The police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the subsequent protests, which featured law enforcement tear-gassing demonstrators, highlight the urgent need to transform America’s criminal justice system. Floyd, 46, managed to outrun the coronavirus pandemic that has taken too many black lives, only to be ensnared by that quintessentially American and dangerously malignant virus of white supremacy. In a video capture eerily reminiscent…

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Bakari Sellers' new memoir, "My Vanishing Country," traces his life from growing up in rural Denmark, South Carolina, to his career in electoral politics and as a political analyst.

Bakari Sellers on a life shaped by the rural South’s civil rights movement

By Editors' Choice

By Olivia Paschal, Facing South — Born in 1984, former South Carolina state Rep. Bakari Sellers was raised in rural Denmark, South Carolina, to a family deeply involved in the civil rights movement. His father, educator Cleveland Sellers, was an activist with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee who was incarcerated on specious charges for which he was later pardoned following the Orangeburg Massacre at South Carolina State University in 1968. State troopers shot…

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Dr. Conrad Worrill

A Living Legend: Dr. Conrad Worrill

By Editors' Choice

By MG Media — Conrad Worrill (born August 15, 1941) is a writer, educator, activist, and former talk show host for the WVON call-in program On Target. Worrill’s activism has centered on the need for greater independence in African-American life and helping young people better understand the relationships between power and institutions. He’s still very active on the board of the Black United Fund of Illinois (BUFI) in which he’s a founder member. He has remained…

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