Kellen Stepler | editor-in-chief
As 350 million people protested and made history this summer under the name of Black Lives Matter (BLM), Ohio State professor Hasan Kwame Jeffries spoke at a Zoom seminar Tuesday, discussing what the civil rights movement can teach us about BLM protests.
The event was sponsored by the McAnulty College of Liberal Arts, the Department of History and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion on behalf of the Duquesne NAACP chapter and Ebony Women for Social Change.
Jeffries opened the seminar with facts: On average, over the past 10 years, police kill almost 1,000 people every year-35% of those people are African-American. He noted that three times the amount of African-Americans die at the hands of police compared to those of lynch mobs in the Jim Crow era.
“Calls for justice are grounded in reality,” Jeffries said. “Black folk are seeking justice.”
He said that the purposes of the protests is seeking recognition and truth. BLM is not politics, he said – and people need to have an honest account of the past. We can’t deal with systemic racism if we don’t understand the history, he said.
“BLM protests are totally legitimate,” Jeffries said.
“Racism is racism, inequality is inequality, and Black folks were catching hell whether they were in Birmingham or Pittsburgh,” Jeffries said.
He said a number of civil rights movements start locally, and that the same negative rhetoric exists in both movements.
“We should all be lifelong learners,” Jeffries said. “It should begin as soon as they’re in class…build on it, and build out. The only subject we don’t do that is humanities.”
He said that the movement is not significantly taught in schools, as it should be.
“Not talking about race is not an option, not talking about racism and inequality is not an option.”