After months of emails that begin with “in these unprecedented times,” America is very much back in precedented times, as activists rally against racism and police violence towards black and brown Americans. As music fans, we've enjoyed posting and watching concerts over the past few months, but the moment also calls for education. Humanities New York is hosting two free, open discussions on the subject of “Community and Protest,” drawing on reading selections from the '60s civil rights icons Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X on June 10 and 17.
You can download the reading and register for a talk, conducted via Zoom, on Humanities New York's website. The reading selections are MLK's “Letter from Birmingham Jail” and Malcolm X's “The Ballot of the Bullet,” as well as Audre Lorde's “The Uses of Anger: Women Respond to Racism,” contextual perspective from historian Elizabeth Hinton, and Joshua Inwood's analysis of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commissions at the end of apartheid, as well as contemporary pieces and James Baldwin's interview with Esquire magazine at the end of the '60s.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden called this moment a "great inflection point in American history," but, even in the light of some legislation being drafted, the change is still yet to come. Whatever the next step is, "direct action" on the streets has pushed it this far, and it's worth considering how it can be used going forward.