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Black Lives Matter: Historical Moments

This guide is meant to serve as a starting point for students and faculty to better understand the killings of unarmed black people since the Black Lives Matter Movement was created in 2013 in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer.

Historical Moments

Kamala Devi Harris is sworn in as the country’s first female, Black, Asian American vice president

 
  • Kamala Harris was sworn in Wednesday as the nation’s first female, Black and South Asian American vice president.
  • A daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants, Harris has made history throughout her career.
  • After her own inauguration, Harris is set to swear in three barrier-breaking senators in her new role as president of the upper chamber.

 

I Have a Dream

Martin Luther King Jr. improvised the most iconic part of his “I Have a Dream Speech.”

On Wednesday, August 28, 1963, 250,000 Americans united at the Lincoln Memorial for the final speech of the March on Washington. As Martin Luther King Jr. stood at the podium, he eventually pushed his notes aside.

The night before the march, Dr. King began working on his speech with a small group of advisers in the lobby of the Willard Hotel. The original speech was more political and less historic, according to Clarence B. Jones, and it did not include any reference to dreams. After delivering the now famous line, “we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream,” Dr. King transformed his speech into a sermon.

Onstage near Dr. King, singer Mahalia Jackson reportedly kept saying, “Tell ‘em about the dream, Martin,” and while no one will know if he heard her, it could likely have been the inspiration he needed. Dr. King then continued, “Even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream….” And then the famous Baptist preacher preached on, adding repetition and outlining the specifics of his dream. And while this improvised speech given on that hot August day in 1963 was not considered a universal success immediately, it is now recognized as one of the greatest speeches in American history. For more information on the 1963 March on Washington, visit pbs.org/marchonwashington

A Cool way to learn about Black History

Amanda Gorman

Amanda Gorman, a 22-year-old poet, read an original work at President Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20.

Archer

Archer is the first Black woman to lead the 101-year-old ACLU

 

The American Civil Liberties Union said Monday its national board has elected civil rights attorney Deborah Archer as its new president, making her the first Black woman to lead the 101-year-old organization.

Why it matters: Archer's milestone comes as the ACLU prepares to push policies aimed at promoting racial equality, from fighting police violence to ensuring voting rights.

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The details: Archer replaces Susan Herman, who stepped down after serving 12 years leading the organization’s board through the Trump administration and the emergence of privacy concerns in the digital age.

  • Archer is a tenured professor of clinical law and director of the Civil Rights Clinic at New York University School of Law, and co-faculty director of the Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law at NYU Law.

  • Archer began her career as the Marvin M. Karpatkin Legal Fellow at the ACLU. She has been a member of the ACLU board since 2009.

What they're saying: “As the country enters the post-Trump era, it is essential that those in leadership intimately understand the history that brought us to this inflection point, and the work ahead. There is no one better equipped, who best personifies or is more capable to helm the future battles for civil rights, civil liberties, and systemic equality than Deborah Archer,” said ACLU executive director Anthony Romero.

Between the lines: The ACLU has been active in recent years in fighting police excessive force in communities of color. Archer is expected to continue that fight.

  • The new ACLU version of the Mobile Justice app available in all 50 states records and submits police incidents directly to local chapters. The app also lets users send videos via text messaging to family and private attorneys.

The bottom line: Archer's election comes as Black women continue to break barriers across industries, politics, and nonprofit organizations.

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Originally published 

 

44 AFRICAN AMERICANS WHO SHOOK UP THE WORLD

44 AFRICAN AMERICANS WHO SHOOK UP THE WORLD

This is a list of The Undefeated 44, a collection of dreamers and doers, noisy geniuses and quiet innovators, record-breakers and symbols of pride and aspiration.