Why Black Lives Matter?

Dearest students, thank you for Maileen who brought out this topic to our Library session today. I believe most of you are curious to know what just happened in this Covid-19 pandemic, why do people have demonstrations in United States of America and shouted to give justice to George Flyod.

Who is George Floyd?

Source: Forbes, Nicholas Reimann

Before, we did not know who is George Floyd. However, after the video here going viral, people realize how pitiful it is. A person begging for his life, shouted that he could not breathe and died.

George Floyd’s death culminated people’s rage and disappointment about how discrimination based on race (skin color) is still applied in USA until now.

Here is the brief history of segregation / discrimination in USA.

Africans were Captured and Sold as the Slaves

The Slave Trade
Source: People & Places Southeren Africa, written by Peter Brooke-Ball and Sue Seddon

Do not think that these people were transferred to USA on yacht and had sunbathing. They were chained, sat, paddled the boat, eat, pee and poo in same place, on their seat; and many could not survive to be alive to reach America’s land. The survivors sold in the slavery market such as a cattle that offered to be sell in an auction.

Slave Auction in Virginia
Picture owned by National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Michael Graham-Stewart Slavery Collection

Once somebody bought the slave, his/her family also belong to the owner, for the rest of their life. Do not think that they would get salary monthly and could save money to having tour to Europe. NONE. Think as you buy a cow or a goat. You only spend money one time, when you want to buy them in the market.

Until…

Abraham Lincoln was Elected as the 16th President of USA

Abraham Lincoln
Source: My Little Golden Book about Abraham Linconl, written by Bonnie Bader, illustrated by Viviana Garofoli

President Abraham Lincoln wanted to end slavery. “All men are created equal,” he declared. Finally he was able to help pass a law to free the slaves. He went to battlefields and gave speeches to ask people to stop fighting about this law. Eleven states broke away from the United States because they did not want to be part of a country that was against slavery. It took years for the Civil War to end, from 1861-1865.

To reenergize his people, President Abraham Lincoln held a big event in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. He gave a speech that lasted two minutes, and used only 271 words. The most important five words he used was, “All men are created equal.”

We had no recording of President Abraham Lincoln’s voice for his speech there (it was in 1865), but we have a narrator to read his speech in the YouTube link below.

President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address

When the war was finally over, crowds of joyful people went to the White House to cheer for the president. President Abraham Lincoln was proud that there was no more slavery. Sadly, he was assassinated and dead before the United States was fully united in peace. He always be remembered as a smart man, a good listener, and a great president.

Black Codes and Jim Cow

Source: I am Rosa Parks, written by Brad Meltzer, illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos

The first steps toward official segregation came in the form of “Black Codes.” These were laws passed throughout the South starting around 1865, that dictated most aspects of black peoples’ lives, including where they could work and live. Segregation soon became official policy by Southern (America) laws. Through so-called Jim Crow laws, legislators segregated everything from schools to residential areas to public parks to theaters to pools to cemeteries, asylums, jails and residential homes. There were separate waiting rooms for whites and blacks in professional offices and, in 1915, Oklahoma became the first state to even segregate public phone booths.

Back then, if your were black, you were treated unfairly just because of the color of your skin. You weren’t allowed to live in the same neighborhood as a white person, eat in the same restaurant, ride the same elevator, or use the same bathroom. You could not even drink from the same water fountain. One was marked for “Whites”; the other for “Colored.”

Until..

Rosa Parks said, “No.”

Source: I am Rosa Parks, written by Brad Meltzer, illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos

It was 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, USA. People were rushing home after a hard day work. When the bus arrived, all seats were quickly taken. Some people had to stand. Black people could only sit in the back of the bus because the front section reserved for white people. Rosa Park sat in the section reserved for black people.

The bus driver ordered her and three other black people to give their seats to white people. Rosa refused, she said, “No,” and she was arrested. Her refusal to give up her seat helped to start a movement against segregation. The leader of that movement was a young minister named Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

So that..

Martin Luther King, Jr. Led the People

Source: Landmark Books Meet Martin Luther King, Jr. written by James T. de Kay

Martin Luther King, Jr. had a special talent for leadership. When he spoke, people listened. Poor people, rich people, white people, black people, and people from all around the world listened when he spoke. Many helped him work, march, sing, and pray for justice.

It wasn’t easy. Thousands of people went to jail. Many were beaten and killed. But Martin Luther King. Jr., did not believe in violence. He used peaceful methods of protest, such as sit-ins, marches, and boycotts.

In the summer of 1963 Martin Luther King, Jr., gave the most famous speech of his life. He gave it outdoors to a quarter of a million people who had come to Washington, DC, to ask the president for jobs and freedom for black people. In his speech Martin Luther King said that he head a dream. His dream was that people everywhere would learn to live together without being mean to one another.

Martin Luther King “I have a Dream” Speech

When he finished the “I have a Dream” speech”, many of the marchers were crying. They stood and cheered Martin Luther King, Jr. Then everyone joined hands, blacks and whites together, and sang “We Shall Overcome.” It was a day that will never be forgotten by anyone who was there. It was a day of high hope.

President Johnson Signing the Civil Rights Act.
Source: Landmark Books Meet Martin Luther King, Jr. written by James T. de Kay

However, the violence struck again. President John F. Kennedy was killed in Dallas, Texas. He had fought hard for a civil rights bill. The vice-president, Lyndon Johnson, became the president. In his first speech to Congress, he asked the lawmakers to honor the memory of President Kennedy. The best way the could do it was by passing the civil rights bill. He urged them to do is as soon as possible. In 1964, President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Acts. Martin Luther King, Jr., stood right behind him.

In 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr., was shot and killed. Thousands of people walked behind him on the way to his cemetery in a sad, loving parade. January 15, Martin Luther King’s birthday, is now a national holiday in USA. He is the only American who was not a president to be given this honor.

Is This Matter to Us in Indonesia?

Lets us discuss this in our library session in next school year. Meanwhile all the printed sources I use in this writing are available in our library. You may borrow them once we returned to school.

Take care all.

4 1 vote
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments