Our democracy’s founding ideals were false when they were written. Black Americans have fought to make them true. The 1619 Project is an ongoing initiative from The New York Times Magazine that began in August 2019, the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.
Since 2013, extrajudicial police killings of black people have captured the attention of U.S. and international media, substantially because of the work of leaders in the Black Lives Matter (#BLM) movement. #BLM is simultaneously a group of localized organizations and a broad online social movement.
“Blackness” and “resistance”: two words that often defy what is commonly understood about their conditions, meanings, terms, and articulations. Alone or together, these terms raise a host of questions about the value and limits of their representation, practice, and the traditions that subtend them. At the time of collating this special issue in 2020, what many observed as a “racial reckoning” took place in the U.S., in the form of protests against racialized state-sanctioned violence and black death at the hands of law enforcement.
Throughout American history, African Americans have sought to utilize weapons to protect themselves. In many cases, Black armed resistance has been depicted as indiscriminate violence or as something that needs to be controlled by a white citizenry.
Reconstruction began while the Civil War was still raging. As Black refugees from slavery reached Union lines, they forced the United States government to reconstruct the relations of slave and master that had defined Black/White relations since the Colonial Era. For Black History Month, we will look at how Black resistance challenged white control of Black bodies.
Jim Crow operated freely in America by the turn of the 20th century. The government abandoned the cause of black equality. In white America, the belief in white supremacy and black inferiority deepened.