The Short List – Black Lives Matter

Alex Altman in Time:

BlmSometimes the toughest tests for a public uprising take place in private. The Black Lives Matter movement faced one such moment in October, inside a turreted building of pale stone planted on the site of the old Pennsylvania Avenue slave market, just blocks from the White House. Eleven young activists filed into a conference room, snapping selfies as they waited for one of the most powerful women in America. It takes clout to finagle a meeting with Hillary Clinton—and courage to do what came next. All summer, Black Lives Matter protesters had disrupted campaign events and forced politicians to grapple with radioactive questions of race and justice. Clinton wanted to clear the air. But it was her guests who grabbed control. For 90 minutes, they peppered her with demands and pushed for sweeping investments in black communities. When the Democratic front runner said she couldn’t muscle race-based legislation through Congress, they accused her of exhibiting white privilege. Alwiyah Shariff, an organizer with the Ohio Student Association, asked how Clinton could be trusted to keep a promise to close private prisons while collecting campaign contributions from the industry. Flashes of irritation flickered across the former Secretary of State’s face. “There was fire in her eyes,” recalls Aurielle Marie, 21, an activist from Atlanta. The confrontation turned out to be a catalyst. At a Democratic debate a few days later, Clinton denounced mass incarceration, called for body cameras on every cop and proposed a “new New Deal” for communities of color. “Exactly the things we’re advocating,” says Sam Sinyangwe, a 25-year-old activist and data scientist who was present at the meeting. Within weeks, Clinton rolled out a criminal-justice platform ripped from the activists’ playbook, including plans to curb police militarization and strengthen federal investigations in cases of alleged misconduct. Her campaign also announced that she would refuse donations from private-prison lobbyists.

In 2015, Black Lives Matter blossomed from a protest cry into a genuine political force. Groups that embraced the slogan hounded police chiefs from their jobs, won landmark prosecutions and turned college campuses into cauldrons of social ferment. At the University of Missouri, a hunger strike incited a boycott by the football team that drove the president out of office.

More here. (Note: At least one post will be dedicated to honor Black History Month throughout February)