CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The Black Lives Matter marches electrified the world in 2020.
Protestors marched the streets in cities across America in the aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd. How important is the Black Lives Matter movement? Has anything changed from a year ago? We sit down with local activists to discuss.
It’s been around the year mark that we have had the Black Lives Matter protest and marches. Would one of y’all want to clarify particularly here for the Coastal Bend what the difference is?
“They each serve a different purpose. The NAACP provides very intensive training to educate people on the differences between marches and rallies. Marches are normally used to galvanize a lot of people. And rallies you normally have speakers," said social justice advocate Coretta Graham.
"With protests, those are very specific you are targeting a specific policy or a specific action that you are raising awareness too," Graham said. "It's not necessarily general. Normally when there is a protest you are very specific about what you are protesting about. I think a lot of times people are using them interchangeably but they really need to understand that there is a difference because they serve a different purpose."
It was important for Corpus Christi residents to understand what was happening nationally in the Black Lives Matter movement, according to local activist Monique Dennise.
“Even though things weren’t happening here locally in Corpus Christi," Dennise said. "We needed our people to know that we are in unity with you all like this is a battle we are fighting for as a nation not just in Minneapolis or just one person or that person when it happens it affects us all.”
Why did we have these different marches, these different protests a year ago?
“I think because we are in an internet age," Graham said. "I think these have been occurring you know since African-Americans have been enslaved in this country.
"But now we are in an age of technology and there are a lot more people with cell phones, there are a lot more people who are engaged in video recording and they’re tuned in and coupled into the fact that we are in a pandemic and everything was shut down. So there were no distractions, so you know people could tune in because it was something to watch."
"And really it has been happening, you can go all the way back to Rodney King where that was videotaped and we got to see a little bit of that," she said. "I have talked to several different people who have different triggers or they can literally pinpoint one person and say it was Ahmad Avery that murder changed my life. It was Treyvon Martin that murder changed my life. It was Sandra Bland, that conspiracy murder changed my life. For me, it was George Floyd. That murder changed my life forever.”
Graham said these events have been happening across America for a long time.
“What we’re talking about is the systematic killing of Black people by law enforcement that’s a whole separate category," Graham said. "Because if you understand the history of policing in this country, it started with slave patrols. And if people do the actual learn about the history and do the work on how policing developed in the system, it was systematic racism from the get-go."
What is Black Lives Matter?
“For me, Black Lives Matter is letting people know we exist also, you know," Dennis said. "That we are not less than that we are equal to a white person, that we are equal to an Indian person, we are equal to an Asian person.
"You know Black Lives Matter means you cannot just kill us frivolously in the street and go on about your business which is what has been happening. We have been seen as less than animals you know. So Black Lives Matter means, that we are just trying to include ourselves in the rest of the world as being equal to or good as and not less than. We just want social inclusion."
Graham added that Black Lives Matter underscores the important accomplishments of African-Americans in American society.
“It is a mantra that means for me recognize, that Black has been here and we are valuable and we have been contributors to this society to this country this nation to this world since the introduction," Graham said. "This does not start with White folks, ok. And we need to recognize folks need to the African contributions the African Americans in the United States have made. And realize that if we are not treated well then that is an indictment on this country. Because we were part of creating this country, this is our land too. And we should have a say so in how we want to live in it.
“For me, Black lives matter is a mantra that’s become a movement. Personally, it may mean different things to different people. But in the big scheme of things it's definitely about acknowledging that Black lives should matter and we are not second-class citizens and we should not be treated as such."
To learn more about Texas Association of Black Personnel in Higher Education, visit their website here.
For more information or to join Black Live Matter visit their website here.