Black Resistance: What it means to me

Freedom Center Voices

August 1, 2023

Black Resistance: What it means to me

What does Black resistance mean to me? Black resistance means activism, freedom, love, family and hope. Black people in America have resisted oppression in systemic, institutional, interpersonal and intrapersonal forms for centuries. Resistance can be both good and bad, and it means different things for different people. Black resistance is the foundation of American democracy. Resistance for Black Americans started in the 1800s, as Black Americans were mistreated and forced into chattel slavery. A major mechanism of resistance was marching. An effort to combat racial injustice with the goal of reaching equal rights for Black Americans. Black resistance movements began during the era of slavery through the Underground Railroad and persisted through and after the Civil War. When the Emancipation Proclamation was signed by Abraham Lincoln, it prompted an even larger resistance movement eventually leading to the Civil Rights era, including the 1960s when individuals radically armed themselves, ultimately resorting to violence.

Black Americans have literally institutionalized resistance by building strong supportive communities such as Black churches, periodicals, historically Black colleges and universities, the Congressional Black Caucus and many other groups and organizations, all founded to ensure the future success of African Americans which had not been previously granted due to the oppressive societal standards that existed in that era. Some of these organizations may be familiar: the National Association for the Advancement of Colored people (NAACP), the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). The NAACP advocated for political and educational access, and equity of minority group citizens across the country to eliminate racial prejudice. They strived to remove all barriers of racial discrimination through democratic processes.

In 1942 a group of Black and white students in Chicago founded CORE, empowering one of America’s most prolific Civil Rights movements. The CORE organization worked alongside Martin Luther King, Jr. and was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s protest strategies of nonviolence and civil disobedience. The SCLC mission was to focus its effort on citizenship, schools and efforts to desegregate individual southern cities. Their goal was to plan rallies, marches and boycotts to end racial discrimination across the South. The SNCC organization sought to coordinate youth-led nonviolent, direct-action campaigns against segregation and other forms of racism. These young Black college students conducted sit-ins around the country to protest the segregation of restaurants and establishments. These organizations and actions that were taken are what turned the world the way it is today. So Black resistance means a lot to me, because if it wasn’t for our ancestors, and these coalitions that were formed, we would not be able to co-exist in the world today. Black resistance plays a major role in my life and the lives of African Americans across the country today.

Keyona Gardner - Specialist, Guest Services

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