Sunday, 16 October 2016

From Black Lives Matter to Black Liberation

Dear Colleagues,

Just a short post to thank Brian Richardson for visiting Ruskin College on 13th Oct to deliver a blistering session, as part of Black History Month, on the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement in the context of police, racism and the state. 

Bryan is a highly regarded barrister author and activist: ( and came to Ruskin last year to discuss his last book, Say it Loud. Here is a link to a review:

The session was very well attended by students and staff. I was really pleased to see such a high take up by students, and that Brian's session was grounded in an historical appreciation of the roots of the BLM movement in the history of brutal racist oppression, violence and murder suffered by black people across the history of the US. Brian quoted from a recent article he'd written for Socialist Review which helped provide insight and rigour to his talk:

At the heart of Brian's talk (and a core thread of his article) is that a history of exclusion and marginalisation has found modern form in the recent brutal deaths of a series of young black men at the hands of police officers. The notion that black lives matter is a stark, simple phrase designed to articulate justified rage and anger.

The article showcases the first book to document this nascent movement. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor’s book, From Black Lives Matter to Black Liberation, provides a coherent account of the lineage of a modern movement with a history of repression. As Brian states in his article:

Taylor’s book goes on to demonstrate how the treatment of black people within the US criminal justice system is the most gruesome aspect of an overall experience of marginalisation and exclusion. African-Americans are more than twice as likely to be unemployed than their white counterparts, the net worth of white households is 13 times that of black households and black life expectancy is four years lower than that of white Americans. In short, there has been a 25 year long period of increasing inequality.

The book is available to purchase here:

The long struggle for freedom is the essential thread of Taylor's book, and I shall certainly get 'round to reading this. By sheer coincidence I picked up whilst browsing in Ruskin's library Michael Honey's classic account of the Memphis sanitation workers dispute in 1967-8. Going Down Jericho Road is a seminal account of Martin Luther King's last, great battle as part of the US civil rights movement before he was murdered. It is a particular favourite of mine as it provides, alongside Jessica Tait's Poor Workers' Unions, an insight on the role of organised labour as principally social movements in the context of the civil rights movement.

Thus Taylor's book helps provide new students of black civil protest in the US, and internationally, with an up-to-date account of the emergence of the movement in historical context. Many thanks again to Brian for providing such a coherent historical means of linking BLM to the past, with an eye to the future.

In Solidarity


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