All of us know about the dismal assault of George Floyd on May 25, 2020. This incident was trending on social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, etc. The slogan – Black Lives Matter stormed the Internet. Everyone was showing one’s support by making the ‘#Blacklivesmatter’ trend all over it. What we are seeing now the support, the voice of people has not been the same before. What we’re fighting today, was not even in the mind of people.
We should know the chronicles of racism against Black. How did it start? When did it start? Why am I emphasizing this emerging issue?
It began in 1619. When there was the requirement of laborers for American colonies, poor Europeans were enslaved from Africa. After that, slavery was spreading rapidly across the American colonies. During the time 1525 to 1866, 12.5 million Africans were uprooted from their homeland and compelled across the Atlantic. The result was that 2 million people couldn’t survive.
Rise of the Cotton Industry, 1793
Slavery had become a prominent issue in the southern part of North America in comparison to the other parts. The people had to face an economic crisis because products like rice and indigo were not giving much profit. Due to this crisis, Tobacco and cash crop were depleted, so the market value of slavery was gradually become down. Simultaneously the mechanization of spinning and weaving was emerging very high and the demand for American cotton became futile.
Eli Whitney Yankee, a school teacher, found the answer to the problem in 1793. The cotton gin was a mechanical device that expertly removed the seeds and can be motorized by water. When it was launched everyone started using it. Soon after a few years, the cultivation of tobacco converted into cotton. Therefore, the demand for enslaved Africans also increased. In 1793, Congress passed the Fugitive Slaved Act. It states, if someone helps the slave to get away, it will be a national crime.
Nat Turner’s Revolt, August 1831
During 1831, Nat Turner was the person who struck fears in the heart of White Americans. He did this by successfully leading the only effective rebellion in US history. He grasps Solar Eclipse as a sign of their rising. After that, he and his followers killed their owner on the night of August 21. Then he steps ahead towards the town of Jerusalem, where he gathered some more of the people. They killed around 60 white people. 100 enslaved people lost their lives by the state forces. After six weeks on the run, he was captured and then hanged by them. This incites a wave across the south. The government immediately limits the education of black people and started calling them Barbarians.
Civil War and Emancipation, 1861
In 1861, President Abraham Lincoln’s antislavery laws, and his election as the first republic president was the reason that ignites the tension between North and South exploded into civil war. It also leads to the seceding of 11 southern states from the union and independently. Hence, forming the Confederate State of America. On January 1, 1863, he made it official that enslaved people “shall be then, thenceforward and forever be free” within any state. This statement made people who were loyal to the union, angered. Around 3 million enslaved people got freed. 186,000 black soldiers were ready to join the union army in the civil war. 38000 lost their lives by the end of the civil war in 1865.
The Post-Slavery South, 1865
After the union victory in the civil war, it gave the 4 million enslaved people their freedom. The 13th Amendment was adopted in 1865 to abolish slavery. But after gaining the civil authority in the former confederate state in 1865 and 1866. They imposed the series of Black codes. These prohibited black people’s freedom and made them laborers again.
After the assassination of Lincoln in 1865, his successor Andrew Johnson became the president. In the following year, the 14th Amendment was adopted. This gave equal protection to everyone, who comes under the law. Even the formerly slave people.
The 15th Amendment adopted in 1870, ensuring that citizen’s right to vote should not be denied. Not based on their – race, color, or previous condition of servitude. Black Americans won the election to the southern state government, which dismayed many white southerners. By 1877, all the political status of black people had been wiped away. They had only a few improvements in their social and economic status.
NAACP Founded, 1909
W.E.B. Du Bois the eminent Black educator was leading a group in June 1905. They met at Niagara Falls, Canada. Sparking a new political protest for demanding civil rights for Black people. As America was facing insufficiency of employment, Illegal lynching of Black people was in action. Race riots in Illinois in 1908 through the Niagara Movement. This later in 1909 by its supporters turned into the new permanent civil rights organization. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Its main aim was to provide equal education for Black and white students. Also, to grant complete voting rights to all Black people.
By the time 1921, NAACP had established in more than 400 locations. Their program was to stand and fight against lynching as well as all other lawless acts. Du Bois was the editor of the NAACP’s magazine, The Crisis, from 1910 to 1934. Printing many major voices in African American literature and politics.
African Americans in WWII, 1941
At the time of World War II, many Black Americans were fighting for President Franklin D. Roosevelt who had the agenda called “Four Freedom”-
- The freedom of speech,
- freedom of worship,
- The freedom from want, and
- freedom from fear.
According to war policy, Black And white people were in the separate units. Still facing racism, even after participating in the war.
Dorie Miller was a young Navy steward on the U.S.S. West Virginia, who carried his injured crew members to a safety point. Somehow managed to grab a machine gun. Started shooting down several Japanese planes that attacked his crew on Pearl Harbor. He became the first Afro-American War Hero. In 1941, Caption Benjamin O. Davis Jr. became the first Afro-American general. In 1948, President Harry S. Truman made official that the U.S. Armed Forces will follow an order. It stated that:
“there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services. Without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin.”
Birmingham Church Bombed, 1963
On Sunday, September 15, 1963, at 10:22 a.m., the 16th street Baptist Church was bombed in an act of racially motivated terrorism by the white supremacists, four young Afro-American girls got killed, and 12 people got injured.
Martin Luther King was arrested during the civil rights movement in the spring of 1963. While his supporters were protesting against segregation. In jail, King wrote a letter to the local white ministers. It explained his choices not to call off the protest. To show the police brutality against children being attacked by police dogs.
Civil Rights Act of 1964, July 1964
The efforts of all-mighty championed Martin King Jr. from the 1950s to 1960. The civil rights movement started to gain some pace in the United States. It was in the hand of Lyndon Johnson to push the civil rights after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, an Afro-American.
The civil rights act gave the federal government much more power. To protect its people from discrimination based on race, religion, sex, or national origin. It established the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). To make sure equal treatment of minorities in workplaces. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law. Using 75 pens on July 2, 1964, and he presented one to King.
Shirley Chisholm Runs for President, 1972
Shirley Chisholm was a former educational consultant and was the founder of the National Women’s Caucus. She became the first Black woman in congress in 1968 from her elected House Brooklyn district. Even though he didn’t win, she succeeded to get more than 150 votes at the Democratic National Convention. She told to press: “I’ve always met more discrimination being a woman than being Black. Men are men.”
Oprah Winfrey Launches Syndicated Talk Show, 1986
Oprah was born in rural Mississippi. She was poor and had only her mother. She got her first break-in television news before she got the morning talk show in Chicago in 1984. The Oprah Winfrey Show was the syndicated talk show which was launched by her. Soon it became the highest-rated TV show in TV history. She encouraged the work of Black female writers to make a film like The Color Purple etc. Oprah also became the first Black female billionaire, Winfrey is an active philanthropist.
Colin Powell becomes Secretary of State, 2001
Colin Powell is a Vietnam veteran and four-star general in U.S. Army. In 2001, George W. Bush selected Powell as secretary of state, making him the first Afro-American to serve as an American’s top diplomat. After the Bush’s reelection in 2004, he resigned. Powell again came in headlines in 2008, where he was campaigning to endorse Barack Obama for the presidential seat.
Barack Obama Becomes 44th U.S. President, 2008
Barack Obama was the first Black American to hold the Presidential office. Obama was inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States of America on January 20, 2009. He completed his graduation from Harvard Law School and began his practising law in Chicago. After that, he started his political career in the Illinois state senate in the year 1996.
He defeated Hillary Clinton at the primary election and then defeated Senator John McCain of Arizona at the general election. The victorious efforts of Barack Obama had a great impact on the U.S. people. Embodied by the slogan “Yes We Can” which inspired thousands of new voters. Black to give the vote to the Afro-American for the first time in the historic election. He was reelected in 2012.
The Black Lives Matter Movement
Alicia Garza was the first person who used the term, Black Lives Matter. He used it in July 2013 in response to the brutal killing of an unarmed 17-year-old boy. Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, a Florida man on February 26, 2012. People protested against the killing of Martin nationwide. In 2013, the formation of the Black Lives Matter Movement was by Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi. With the mission in mind to “eliminate the white supremacy and to build the power among the Black Community”.
#Blacklivesmatter was first used on Twitter on July 13, 2013.
A chain of deaths happened day by day, A clear evidence of the tyranny of the police on Black people. This enraged the people to revolt against this heinous oppression. Some of the examples are-
- Eric Garner in New York City,
- Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri,
- Tamir Rice in Cleveland Ohio, and
- Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Maryland.
George Floyd Protests – Black Lives Matter Revamp
George Floyd, a 46-year-old man was killed by a police officer, Derek Chauvin, amid the pandemic COVID-19 on May 25, 2020. He was accused of forgery check of $20 bill in the general store in Minneapolis. Derek was filmed kneeling on George’s neck for about 9 minutes. This heinous act led to nationwide protests. The three officers who were engaged in this incident were fired and charged with aiding and abetting murder. Derek was later charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and third-degree manslaughter.
We all have been conditioned to consider black as sin, evil, dangerous and dirty. Now, it is time to unlearn the wrong. Acknowledge what is wrong. Racism is a social evil. Embrace the good. Black lives always mattered, black lives matters and now, it is on us to let this fierce movement go global!