From the Civil Rights period to ‘Black Lives Matter’: a dialogue in Roxbury | Roxbury Register Information

ROXBURY TWP. – The civil rights movement on Black Lives Matter and its relationship was the subject of a talk given on Wednesday April 28th by the Roxbury Borough Public Library.

The Roxbury Township Public Library, in partnership with the Roxbury Coalition for Social Change, hosted a virtual event entitled “From Civil War to the Matter of Black Life”.

The virtual discussion was led by Dr. Lillie J. Edwards, professor of history and African American studies at Drew University.

Edwards began her presentation by linking the current Black Lives Matter movement with previous civil rights initiatives.

“Black Lives Matter is an adaptation of the black freedom movements of the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th centuries from the 21st century,” said Edwards. “These campaigns for freedom, citizenship and equality have embedded the belief that black lives mattered on the national agenda from the time of black enslavement and colonial times to the present day. These movements reflect black patriotism, hope, and belief in the nation’s founding ideals and principles. “

Edwards then spoke to the 6,500 documented lynchings against racial terror and the thousands that took place without papers between 1865 and 1950. She also cited the Reconstruction Changes and the Civil Rights Acts of 1866, 1871, and 1875.

Edwards characterizes the contradictions that pollute American history and its racial relations.

“You and I have inherited this legacy of a nation based on conflicting ideas and behaviors,” said Edwards. “On the one hand, we adhere to the noble principles of freedom and democracy; On the other hand, white supremacy and the myth of black inferiority aggressively and sometimes violently assert that black people have less because they earn less. “

Edwards notes that during the era of slavery, white supremacy was embedded, validated, and protected in colonial, local, state, and national laws. Simultaneously with this suppression, the creativity, intellect, ethics and rights of black humanity have been continuously affirmed.

Throughout the existence of American slavery and beyond, blacks have continuously organized and fought for their own freedom.

“Black people have fought to protect the nation’s democratic ideals,” said Dr. Edwards. “They believed in these ideas even though they were enslaved. Could anyone believe in individual freedom more than in enslaved people? The struggle for black freedom was also a struggle for the nation to protect life, freedom and the pursuit of happiness and inalienable rights. “

Black leaders and communities sought equality and justice for all people through education, access to citizenship and voting, economic independence, fair wages, cultural production and innovations that affirmed black identity, and the creation of organizations and movements that are organized and strategic would develop to secure these rights.

Edwards highlighted the strategies used during the civil rights movement in the 1940s and 1960s and their similarity to the strategies used during the Black Lives Matter movement in the 2010s. These strategies included: mass movements, legal strategy, the murder of Emmitt Till and the power of the media, and black power and black empowerment.

Emmett Louis Till was a 14-year-old African American who was lynched in Mississippi in 1955 after he was accused of insulting a white woman at her family’s grocery store.

Edwards conveyed that these earlier movements and their warfare are the ancestors of the Black Lives Matter movement.

“These conversations may make us uncomfortable, but they are very necessary because not all lives were always important,” said Dr. Edwards. “While we are a nation in which freedom, equality, justice, fundamental rights and equal protection determine our institutional processes and our daily lives, we also have a legacy in the distant and recent past of being a nation in which black life did not, have and do not matter. The contemporary Black Lives Matter movement claims that the legacy lives on and requires some sort of American revolution to secure inalienable rights, social justice and freedom. “

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