Lessons from the Past: Black Activism in the Revolutionary Era


Protesters march against police shootings and racism during a rally in Washington, DC on December 13, 2014 (Rena Schild, Shutterstock.com).

Democracies of catastrophes emerge from exploitation, expropriation, and extraction of Black and indigenous lands, lives, and labor. The United States accumulates wealth through racial capitalism, militarism, law, and policing. Supreme Court decrees transformed the 14th Amendment from granting personhood for emancipated enslaved people into protections and political personhood for corporations. Aspirational democracies’ symbiotic redemptions — the political imagination to desire egalitarian freedom and the revolutionary will to fight for it — evolved in movements for voting rights, labor protections, civil/human rights, and anti-racist/queer feminisms. Indigenous, African, Latinx, Asian, Muslim, queer/trans, women, children, poor, elderly, differently abled, nature and other animal species — all were mirrored in courageous activism that contested repression, war, and empire.

This year, the 400th anniversary of racial captivity, finds strangers in a strange land…

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