Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Jeanne Petit, History

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It began as a hashtag. Generated by the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the killing of Trayvon Martin in July of 2013, the Black Lives Matter movement emerged as an online response to claims of police brutality and racial discrimination. By August, 2014, the movement had transferred from the screen to the streets as demonstrators filled Ferguson, Missouri to protest the killing of Michael Brown. Subsequent reports of racial profiling and police killings only added fuel to the movement’s fire and its message quickly captured national attention. The apparent spontaneity in which the Black Lives Matter movement developed is belied, however, by the long history of racial injustice in the United States and the protest movements that have sought to respond to oppression. In an effort to understand this centuries-old story, this team examined the historical roots of the Black Lives Matter movement in the areas of politics and law, culture, organized responses, and violence. Specifically, this project sought to explore the Black Lives Matter movement within the context of the Brown v. Board court decision, the media, the women’s sit-in movement, and the 1967 Buffalo riots.