Opinion: How Spike Lee and Strong Tradition Saved Me


The lessons I learned growing up about the power of storytelling to change the interrelationships of politics, law and entire communities resonate now more than ever.

In the present moment of partisan division, in the hateful debates over the teachings of American history, in the dispute over voting rights, in the conflict over the meaning of the events of January 6, 2021, I am reminded of them. I cling to memories. Other issues about the country we live in take on a new sense of urgency.

Personally, as a researcher, as an active citizen, and as a husband and father, I have a more complex, and uncomfortable, but unsettling view of America’s past, present, and future, and myself (and ours). Ultimately it has been bolstered by efforts to tell more satisfying stories. ) can enter.

America’s present has the power to change history, and vice versa. “It took a long time to come, but tonight, on this day, in this election, because of what we did in this defining moment, change has come to America,” said the then-president-elect. Barack Obama said. Observed To the cheerleaders in Grant Park, Chicago. Obama’s historic election night in November 2008 was marked by the passage and ratification of the 13th Amendment of 1865 and the 1954 Supreme Court decision mandating desegregation of Brown v. Board of Education. Likewise, it opened up a new world of politics. All three moments opened up new possibilities for how Americans define citizenship.

The image of Obama taking the stage as the next president of the United States breathed new life into the 13th and Brownites and changed the way Americans understand history. For some, this was a revelation. For others, it constituted an existential threat.

To understand why, it’s important to recognize that most Americans understand history since the end of the Civil War. split Between the “Reconstructionist” perspective adopted by proponents of multiethnic democracy and the “redemptionist” perspective offered first by former Confederates and later by proponents of white supremacy .

The stakes of the battle between them have long been the very soul of the nation.To understand America’s story requires learning the history of the nation through a series of new eyes. This allows us to see both the grandeur and the suffering of the ongoing democratic experiment. In doing so, we get to witness the historical parallels and political juxtapositions that mark its history, but never exactly repeat itself, and definitely rhyme.

These contrasting approaches have shaped more than our history. It has also influenced (and still plays a role in) how Americans have defined citizenship, national identity, and democracy since 1865.

How Reconstruction 1st and 2nd Changed Our Story Again and Again

Jim Crow America was largely ruled by redemptionist hands. At the turn of the 20th century, for example, redemptionist politics dominated so much that the revival of the Ku Klux Klan occurred (revived in 1915 at his Mountain in Stone, Georgia). white supremacist memorial still remains). “The Birth of a Nation” by DW Griffiths silent movie Depicting Reconstruction as a horrific mistake, the film was a sensation when it was released in February of that year (screened at the White House for President Woodrow Wilson).
In the years that followed, large-scale violence took place in several American cities. Massacre in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
American Memorial to White Victims

The struggle for black dignity, which reached its lowest point in the aftermath of Tulsa, took on an important new dimension after World War II. During the Second Reconstruction Movement, which culminated in the assassination, Reconstructionists won an important legislative victory with a bill declaring formal segregation unconstitutional. Nothing was more important than the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and his Voting Rights Act of 1965.

America’s Second Reconstruction changed the social conventions of black people, and the legacy of this era still reverberates across the country. I am still working on the debate about civil rights and dignity. The second Reconstruction brought institutionalized support and unprecedented consensus about the strength of democracy and the value of black equality as a political and moral good.

Pastor: 'Tulsa is all over the country'
Brown in 1954 marks the beginning of the Second Reconstruction, but the origins of the emergence of a national consensus on racial justice lie on June 11, 1963, when President Kennedy made a televised speech about the problem. That night, Kennedy spoke more outspoken than ever about racial inequality, saying that black people “still have not been freed from social and economic injustice,” and that this fact is hurting the nation as a whole. America, Kennedy said, “Despite all hope and all pride, we will never be completely free until all citizens are free.”

In the years that followed, there were setbacks, false starts, outright lies, and action gestures that fell far short of the ambitious goals of the Reconstructionists, but a rhetorical endorsement of racial justice. proved to be far superior to the democratic health of the country than its opposition.

What is the third reconstruction?

Looking back, America’s 50 years from JFK’s finest moments as president to the June 25, 2013 Shelby v. disabled. Helping to overshadow the broader consensus was the continuing division over the federal government’s role in ensuring black people’s civil rights and dignity.

Reconstructionist ideology positions America as a multiracial democracy, freed from the ancient bonds of discrimination and racial injustice in word and deed.

After Second Reconstruction, redemptionists also pledged support for racial justice, but interpreted federal intervention as violating constitutional principles and the dignity of state rights and individual preferences. From Shelby’s decision in 2013 to the current midterm debate over how to deal with race and gender in the classroom, the country will allow the pace of racial progress to lead to elections. We are losing the racial justice consensus that fostered the rough compromise. of a black president.

Many politicians who clung to redemptionist ideas have spent recent decades arguing for evidence that America is no longer a racist state, and for enforcing laws that prevented voting rights from blocking anti-discriminatory measures. It seems to have failed to find a paradox between endorsing policy and leading up to passage. incited mass incarceration, as a result, Amplification of black misery, suffering, and premature death, although these consequences were not always intended. Among its effects were the ongoing housing and public school segregation, high unemployment, incarceration, and housing discrimination that kept black families out of the wealth generated by home ownership.

The racial Cold War is looming large as the country transitions into a third reconstruction that began with Obama’s election and lasted until the Jan. 6, 2021 riots at the U.S. Capitol and the investigative hearings that dominated the news this year. It produced a striking juxtaposition between racial progress and regression. .

Black history saved me.can save america

I was an American history student for as long as I can remember. Its grace and dread helped me understand my own family history as the proud son of Haitian immigrants who moved to New York City in the mid-1960s. brought the history of the civil rights movement to life in my home for six hours in a monumental documentary series that first aired on television in 1987. The series treated black people with deep empathy. It suggests that their story deserves respect.

Then, the summer before I turned 17, I saw Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, which premiered on July 21, 1989. Set in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, the film chronicles the anatomy of police-induced race riots. violence.

'Let's do the right thing' I still have something to say

A civil rights afterlife, this film reflects my own experience of a city still scarred by segregation, poverty and racism. Police killing of a young black man named Radio Raheem. He spent most of his film on Public Enemy’s Fight the Power!

The film’s coda, which draws on Malcolm X’s quotes about black dignity and Martin Luther King Jr.’s about black civil rights, stuck with me and inspired me to turn my love of history into a lifelong profession. I got

I discovered a new world in my history books. It’s an echo of previous freedom struggles, some victorious, some short-lived, but nevertheless finding where you fit in a narrative that seems bigger than what was offered during the course. gave me inspiration for of my secondary education.

I majored in history and black studies in college, but when I went to graduate school, my interest in Reconstruction grew. But even with a PhD in Civil Rights Era American History, what I later came to see as America’s Second Reconstruction wasn’t content with the stories we were told about the country’s past. .

Finally meet the real Malcolm X

Dissatisfaction grew into determination, and I used the study of history as both an intellectual shield and a political sword to examine contemporary cases of structural racism and backlash and the implications of our latest narrative. I realized that I could explain the connection between it and the long-forgotten episode of inequality from which it originated. political issue.

But until the political and racial reckoning of 2020, seeing millions of people around the world turn to history to heal their troubled global souls, understanding I’ve noticed so many people looking for stories that can help them. of things. The more I try to understand the grace and dignity of the black women who led the murder of George Floyd, the rise of then-President Donald Trump and his MAGA supporters, and the Black Lives Matter movement, the more I am in history. I began to turn my attention.

I believe that the more we learn about these three recovery periods, the better off we all are. By understanding the causes of our current dissatisfaction, we can collectively choose a different path. This includes defending the dreams of freedom for Black, White, Latino, Asian American, Pacific Islander, Native American, queer, disabled, working-class, and immigrant communities while embracing the darker parts of American history. You have to stand up. .

Our first two periods of reconstruction came to an premature end, and the political violence, partisan divisions, and comprehensiveness of American history with enough courage to deal with the bitter and beautiful parts of history. Destroyed by the failure to craft a new story. This latest period of Reconstruction offers a tremendous opportunity to begin shaping a new American narrative that is more compassionate, ethical, and morally redeemable. That new story begins with each of us, beyond history books, national memorials, and evolving political cultures.

Source: www.cnn.com

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