You SHOULD…Read: The Making of Black Lives Matter

“‘What you should read, see, and hear?’ You should read The Making of Black Lives Matter: A Brief History of an Idea (Oxford University Press, 2017) by political theorist, Christopher J. Lebron, because he reminds us that the philosophical underpinnings of the #BlackLivesMatter movement predate the contemporary movement.  Analyzing the treatment of “Black” people over time, Lebron submits a historical framing of Black political thinkers’, activists,’ and letterpersons’ understandings about Black people’s rights (and the lack, thereof) in American society.  This treatment, Lebron notes, prompted Black Americans’ rhetorical, oratorical, lettered, and physical activism to articulate and assert Black people’s equal humanity, rights, and protection in different eras of American political history. Thus, Lebron outlines the tradition of Black resistance oriented in the long-standing Black freedom struggle to contest racial discrimination and systemic inequality in various forms (in addition to contemporary struggles against police brutality).  Lebron elucidates this longitudinal activism by examining political thought and expressions of Black men and women, such as Frederick Douglass, Ida B. Wells, Audre Lorde, Anna Julia Cooper, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who establish foundational arguments about Black Americans’ humanity, (in)justice, and liberation for various iterations of “Black,” intersectional identities (class, gender, sexuality, and ethnicity, for example).”

-Shayla C. Nunnally
Department of Political Science & Africana Studies Institute
University of Connecticut