“How could this be happening in a US major city?” This was the question that many newscasters were asking during the protests and violence in Baltimore. Many compared the violence and unrest in Baltimore to the violence and unrest in cities during the Civil Rights Movements, and many believed that the Civil Rights Movement was the last time this has happened. On the Daily Show, Jon Steward tells us a different story.
The story Jon tells us is one of historically unrest and violence in major US cities after the Civil Rights Movement. Watt in 1965, Augusta in 1970, Miami in 1980, Los Angeles and St. Petersburg in the 1990s, and Ferguson just last year. The news seems to portraying Baltimore as an unprecedented and isolated incident, while Steward is arguing that there has been historical race violence in US cities.
There is a section of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from the Birmingham City Jail that really speaks to our past and present unrest and violence. In the letter, MLK wrote, “You deplore the demonstrations that are presently taking place in Birmingham. But I am sorry that your statement did not a express a similar concern for the conditions that brought the demonstration into being. I am sure that each of you would want to go beyond the superficial analyst who looks merely at effects and does not grapple with the underlying causes.” (p. 579).
If we continue to ignore the causes of racial violence these events will continue to happen. So what are some of the causes of that lead to present racial violence and what could be some solutions to these problems?