Directors of the Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law discuss how 2020’s Black Lives Matter movement differs from past calls for racial equity

On July 30, Professors Deborah Archer and Anthony Thompson, the faculty co-directors of the Center on Race, Inequality and the Law (CRIL), were joined by CRIL executive director Vincent Southerland to discuss the Center’s history of activism, and why the current Black Lives Matter protests seem to mark a change in the way many Americans have organized to fight systemic racism in the United States.

Watch video of their discussion here:

Selected remarks:

Thompson, 22:28: “For the first time in modern history, literally a large portion of the world’s population was sequestered at home, so in addition to these things happening on television and going viral on social media, something else very important happened. Many Americans that are unaffected, that are not people of color, often simply allowed their daily lives to distract them or to change the channel, frankly. We didn't see that here.”

Archer, 25:16: “We're seeing preparation and opportunity coming together in a really powerful way: People were ready for this. They were ready because of the work of activists and organizers and lawyers over many years…. Artists had films ready to go. Scholars had books and articles. Advocates had policies and platforms. There were resources, educational materials. There was legislation that was already in the pipeline. And I think we're also seeing a broader and a more intentional network of people with deep relationships in communities who are ready to do the work of supporting both the protests and calling for transformation in meaningful ways.”

Thompson, 34:25: “You must have some resilience and ability to get engaged in media advocacy, in social media advocacy, in community advocacy. Those are skills that we need to teach, but those are skills that many activists have begun to master. Let me tell you, from Trayvon Martin to Ahmaud Arbery, those cases would not have been filed but for social media and the campaigns that were put forth on social media. So part of the transformative nature of this work is our ability to pull those levers.”

Posted October 14, 2020