*The longevity of the Black Lives Matter movement may have initially been doubtful, but months after its formation, the effort continues to make a difference in and out of the spotlight.
The Christian Science Monitor notes that while the media has mostly focused on the two suspects arrested in connection with the recent shooting of five Black Lives Matter protesters at a Minneapolis demonstration and the week-long sit-in from protesters that the led to the shooting, there hasn’t been much coverage highlighting how quickly Black Lives Matter organized the protests. The demonstrations follow a deadly encounter between Minneapolis police and Jamar Clark that too place on Nov. 15.
In addition, the site pointed out that the Minnesota BLM chapters have managed to coordinate public demonstrations and grassroots efforts in the Twin Cities, a fact that suggests the strength of BLM is partially to its ability capitalize on media exposure.
According to experts, the way BLM organizers have used social media and organized events that promote their message to build and maintain nationwide networks says a lot about the organization, given the fact that all of this has been done when news outlets have found other things to cover.
“The grassroots organizing that underlies the Black Lives Matter movement is incredibly important and mostly invisible,” Wesley Hogan, director of the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University and a filmmaker who specializes in the history of youth social movements, told the Monitor. “There is a lot of relationship-building behind the scenes that keeps people connected [within the movement].”
Hogan’s comments especially ring true as Black Lives Matter Minneapolis and other BLM chapters have been actively getting its message across since the movement’s formation after a grand jury failed to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.
Referencing MinnPost, a nonprofit journalism outfit, the article acknowledged that BLM Minnesota organized a series of high-profile demonstrations in the Twin Cities that included two marches that shut down Highway 55 and I-35-W as well as a “protest at the Mall of America that attracted thousands, partially shut down the mall during one of its busiest shopping days of the year, and led to the controversial arrest of 11 members of BLM Minneapolis.” All within four months after the grand jury’s verdict.
“By the time of the altercation between Mr. Clark and police, the Minnesota chapters of Black Lives had the capacity to respond within a day, organizing the week-long demonstration outside the precinct near the site of the shooting hours after the incident took place,” the Monitor stated.
“The fact that they are mobilizing fairly quickly whenever something happens is a sign that there’s a good amount of organization,” University of Texas at Austin associate professor of government Eric McDaniel told the publication as he cited the Tea Party’s influence in politics and policies as something BLM will need to take a look at to ensure longevity.
Just as importantly, Black Lives Matter has also pushed for legislative change at state and local levels. The movement’s Boston chapter recently generated national headlines when its leaders confronted Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in an effort to have her articulate how she would fight for equal rights as president. In Cambridge, Mass, that city’s BLM chapter has held protests regarding housing and displacement issues as well as worked to raise awareness for local elections and encouraged the black community in Cambridge to vote.
“I think [the group’s leaders] have learned that you have to really organize on the grassroots level. That you need to work when the cameras are not around and when the reporters are not there, because you’re trying to sustain a movement for the long haul as opposed to looking to immediate victories,” Robert Harris, professor emeritus of African American history and vice provost of diversity and faculty development at Cornell University told the Monitor.
For more about Black Lives Matter and its social media and grassroots efforts, click over to CS Monitor.