American Journal of Public Health: The Longue Durée of Black Lives Matter

By Alondra Nelson
American Journal of Public Health

Nelson_Body coverBlack Lives Matter was first articulated just a few years ago, but it has been the leitmotif of antiracist struggles for generations.

The Movement for Black Lives extends the work of previous movements that challenged forms of oppression that act on Black bodies with impunity. It should be understood in the context of Ida B. Wells’ anti-lynching campaign, Fannie Lou Hamer’s reproductive justice demands, and the Black Panther Party’s health activism. The 50th anniversary of the Black Panther Party is an occasion to recall that its work confronted the callous neglect and the corporeal surveillance and abuse of poor Black communities.

Similar demands have been the centrifugal force of social movements that for centuries have refused to have Black lives cast beyond the human boundary.

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