Building a 21st century resistance movement
By Alice B. Jennings, Esq.
Special to the Michigan Citizen
“Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it or betray it.” — Frantz Fanon
As I watched the 50th anniversary celebration of the 1963 March on Washington last week, I realized the civil rights movement of the 1950-60s, which changed this country so profoundly, emerged out of resistance to the legislation and practices of the Jim Crow South.
I envisioned an equally historic movement that can now be built out of resistance to the escalating counter-revolution of Tea Partiers and state legislatures.
This new movement has already begun with the fight-back of North Carolina citizens in the Moral Mondays demonstrations led by the Rev. William Barber, president North Carolina NAACP, and the Rev. Nelson Johnson from Greensboro’s Beloved Community.
Over a thousand people have been arrested at the North Carolina State House in Raleigh, and the marches have now expanded statewide to both urban and rural North Carolina cities. At Mountain Moral Monday over 10,000 people, mainly North Carolina citizens, responded to the roll back of their voting rights, employment rights, criminal justice rights, women’s rights and food justice.
This new movement will not be built overnight.
The civil rights movement of the 1950-60s involved years of organizing, arrests, beatings, sit-ins, community meetings, voter registration drives, church sermons, freedom riders, teach-ins, union strikes, marches and courtroom strategy. Many were martyred, both known and unknown: Emmett Till —1954 in Money, Mississippi; Reverend George Lee —1955 in Belzoni, Mississippi; Medgar Evers — 1963 in Jackson, Mississippi; Four little girls: Denise McNair, Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson — 1963 Birmingham, Alabama; James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner — 1964 in Philadelphia, Mississippi; Viola Gregg Liuzzo — 1965 in Selma, Alabama; Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. — 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee; and many, many others.
At the Aug.17 People’s Forum in Detroit, organized by Detroiters Resisting Emergency Management (D-REM), there were many young people who discovered their agency in community projects like Feedom Freedom Growers. With education and organization they can become the resistance activists of our period..