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Modern Civil Rights Protests: Effective or a Waste of Time?

By Darrion Kirnes
On October 27, 2014

A large amount of civil rights protests have taken place in the African American community nationwide. The lack of results behind these protests may lead one to believe that modern civil rights protests are no longer effective.

The last few years have been a plethora of reasons to protest injustices across America within young black males being shot at the hands of intimidated Caucasian males.

"Protests and marches have their place, but if you really want to affect change in a capitalist economy you have to attack capitalism… Modern protests should pick up where Martin Luther King Jr. left off by boycotting businesses," said Darryl Scriven, a Philosophy and Religion assistant professor at Florida A & M University.

A study conducted by The American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C., suggests that young African American boys are not being provided the proper protection because they are viewed as older and less innocent than white counterparts. When shown pictures of young African American males starting at age 10 they’re overestimated by at least 4.5 years.

Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Oscar Grant and now Michael Brown were all vilified in some way and white people attempted to justify the reasons for them being murdered by those appointed to protect them.

Even when black males attempt to reach out for help from Caucasians, they are still greeted with fearful reactions. Former FAMU football player Jonathan Ferrell was murdered by a police officer for knocking on a white woman's door for help after being in a car accident.

One may believe like with most issues, the problem lies with the leadership of current civil rights organizations.

"The difference is the caliber of leadership in past civil rights protests the leaders were committed to the goal that he was willing to risk his personal freedom, standing in society, financial basis… Current leaders don't occupy that same type of courage,” Scriven said.

Social media also has played a role in modern civil rights movement.

Tweets can take away some of the potency of a civil rights organizations because some individuals may tweet before they take action. Although, tweets don't replace actual protests, a trending tweet can shed light on a seemingly small issue that wouldn't get as much attention otherwise.

"I think social media has stimulated activity because it's a way for people to be involved. Even during the ‘60s civil rights movement you didn't have all black people protesting because they didn't believe in peacefully protesting so they participated in other ways," said David Jackson Jr., a professor of history and chairman at FAMU.

It is possible to argue that despite protest progress has not been made or not enough progress has been made because young African Americans are still being shot.

"I have seen progress in the community, over the summer we had a rally in Tallahassee at the Capitol for Michael Brown when he was shot. All three schools came together to support. I think that shows progress," said Ronald Nelson, the president of the FAMU Chapter of the NAACP.

Regardless of progress being shown in certain areas African Americans are not satisfied with the bottom line regarding injustices.

"Progress has been made but me being president of the NAACP and speaking with the leaders of the community we're not satisfied and we will not be satisfied until every injustice is turned and all of our rights are fully endowed to us," Nelson said. 

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