“The baby boomers who drove the success of the civil rights movement want to get behind Black Lives Matter, but the group’s confrontational and divisive tactics make it difficult. In the 1960s, activists confronted white mobs and police with dignity and decorum, sometimes dressing in church clothes and kneeling in prayer during protests to make a clear distinction between who was evil and who was good.”
The rapper Tef Poe said during the protests in Ferguson, Missouri that: “This ain’t your grandparents’ civil rights movement.” He’s right, I’m a grandmother who was an activist in the 1960s, and I see little similarity between the two. Under Martin Luther King Jr.’s approach we protested peacefully and worked at winning over people’s hearts. The older generation of activists wants to support Black Lives Matter, but we are too often swayed by their confrontational tactics. It’s becoming harder to tell who at these protests are activists and who is just part of the mob. The civil rights movement in the 60s was respected because it was so heavily tied to the church, while BLM is more secular. A considerate approach is what will win allies and quiet enemies. For awhile BLM has run on raw emotion, which may be valid, but is ultimately a destructive strategy. The civil rights elders could have mentored the movement, but BLM hasn’t welcomed outside support. Some have defended the movements, saying BLM activists respect the elders but are not beholden to them. They typically reject a standard hierarchy. By doing this they have improved upon the inherent sexism of the 60s civil rights movements. The movement is harmed when they shame “all lives matter,” which is contrary to King’s idea that, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” The elders can be judgmental, but common ground must be found to reform the criminal justice system.