Violence As A Form Of Protest

Historians in the News
tags: civil rights, violence, Protest, Boston Massacre

When people started burning cop cars and destroying property during protests against police brutality, some argued the non-violent protest movement of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. should serve as the model for today's activists.

But violence has long been a part of bringing about racial justice, says Kellie Carter Jackson, professor of Africana Studies at Wellesley College and author of "Force and Freedom: Black Abolitionists and the Politics of Violence."

While some say violence has no place in the struggle for social change, Jackson calls for more discussions about how violence sparked the civil rights movement. The murders of Emmett Till and four young girls in a church, as well as the assassinations of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. deserve thorough examination, she says.

“I think that the entire civil rights movement was an organized movement in response to violence, that the entire movement was about violence and how people should respond to it,” she says. “When we talk about the civil rights movement, I think we've been too comfortable about looking back at this past with sort of rose-colored glasses about how people responded to their oppression.”

This violence goes all the way back to the death of Crispus Attucks, a Black man who was the first person killed at the Boston Massacre. Across the nation, Attucks’ death is one of the first things kids learn about the American Revolution.

Attucks is portrayed as a patriot, but Jackson says that’s not the full story. British soldiers shot and killed Attucks and several others in response to Attucks throwing debris.

Read entire article at WBUR

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