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Black Americans as Beacons of Social Justice

If one word could describe the experience of the Black American community in the United States, that word may be perseverance. During February, and in the context of Black History Month, let’s remember, recognize and celebrate the history, accomplishments and contributions of the Black community in shaping our nation. Let’s review some of the tireless advocacy of Black Americans for the attainment of equal rights under the law and their ongoing quest for justice for all groups of people.

Civil Rights Warriors

The oppression and adversity faced by Black Americans before and after the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 and subsequent Freedom Day of June 19, 1865, includes countless racial segregation cases and acts of violence that have been recorded in history and countless others that have not been documented. While many have drawn national and global attention during modern times with the advancement of technology and the massive reach of mainstream media, not all plights have.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964, for example, was the result of the decades long and persistent organization and mobilization by Black activists, educators, strategists, clergy, protestors and community members who opposed and fought against racial discrimination while demanding significant change in the quality of civil and human rights for people pushed onto society’s margins.

The efforts of Ida B. Wells, Black military servicepersons in World War II, Ella Baker, A. Phillip Randolph, James Farmer, Baynard Rustin and many others, as well as organizations like the Congress Of Racial Equality (CORE), Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and the several other brave leaders who helped to move the progress of the civil rights movement forward, brought to fruition laws to protect every American resident’s constitutional rights regardless of color, race, gender, creed or national origin. However, many Black Americans remain adversely impacted by the multiple forms of systemic racism, including extremism. A few of the more well-known cases are the murder of Emmett Till, a 15-year-old boy visiting with family in 1955 Money, Mississippi, the assassination of civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968 Memphis, Tennessee, the murder of George Floyd in 2020 Minneapolis, and most recently, the brutal beating and murder of Tyre Nichols in January 2023, also in Memphis. It is challenging to heal the wounds inflicted upon the Black community, because the fear of experiencing new atrocities is still very much present in today’s society.

A Pew Research survey of Black Americans conducted in October 2021, unveiled that 44% of Black people say equality for their community in this country is not likely to happen. “The survey explores how Black Americans assess their position in U.S. society and their ideas about social change. Overall, Black Americans are clear on what they think the problems are facing the country and how to remedy them. However, they are skeptical that meaningful changes will take place in their lifetime,” (Cox and Edwards). Still, persistence and hope remain the driving forces for many.

From the Selma to Montgomery, Alabama March of 1965 that led to the Voting Rights Act, to the nationwide racial justice movement known as the Black Lives Matter (BLM), Black Americans have persevered and succeeded in furthering their advocacy efforts as well as in creating a new narrative that represents the community’s role as beacons of social justice. “The [BLM] movement grew nationally in 2014 after the deaths of Michael Brown in Missouri and Eric Garner in New York. Since then, it has established itself as a worldwide movement, particularly after the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis, MN” (Howard University School of Law). Efforts that empower the Black community nationally have impacted the entire world as well.

Systemic Racism and Black Persistence

Survey data highlighted that supporting political engagement, particularly with exercising of voting rights and promoting Black businesses to facilitate the advancement of Black communities, are among the primary ways Black Americans think they are able to secure improved lived experiences. Provisions to descendants of enslaved people in the form of educational scholarships, or financial assistance for Black-owned businesses and homeowners are part of the proposed solutions to ensure progress in the Black community.

Similarly, as stated in “The Pulse of Black America,” a 2022 survey of Black Americans’ opinions about different issues in daily living, both firmly believe in the importance of their vote and civic engagement and agree that Black and brown communities are frequently dealing with forms of suppression during active election cycles. Further, a survey conducted by Benenson Strategy Group (BSG), indicates that among the biggest barriers to obtain equality are the lack of access to good jobs, fair pay and affordable education, as well as underdeveloped low-income communities and mass incarceration. Addressing the barriers Black Americans have faced for over two centuries has required speaking up, speaking out and continuous mobilization. But it’s not easy. “Efforts, [for example], to address systemic and implicit biases in law enforcement are unlikely to be effective in reducing the racial disparities in the criminal justice system as long as explicit racism in law enforcement continues to endure. There is ample evidence to demonstrate that it does,” (German).

It has been proven throughout history that achieving social justice is a long process that requires organization, courage, participation and the intervention of different sectors of society. Black Americans know this first hand and giving up is not an option. “[In the year 2023, Black people] are still clamoring for that promise of equal justice and opportunity to be recognized as fully equal citizens in America,” (Frimpong).

The Accommodation: Journey to Triumph

Join us Wednesday, Feb. 15 for a timely discussion of journeying toward justice and triumph via the works of Mr. Jim Schutze and Commissioner John Wiley Price. In The Accommodation: Journey to Triumph, Dallas College will pay homage via an engaging keynote and intimate conversation on race, culture, housing, civil rights and opportunity. The conversation will be moderated by our own, Jasmine D. Parker, Ph.D., Dallas College’s systemwide senior director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. 

Included in the event will be an audience Q&A with a book signing following. Complimentary book copies of “The Accommodation,” sponsored by the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, will be available with the book signing following the event.

This event is open to students, faculty, staff, leaders and community members. Please join us for this face-to-face and concurrent live-streamed offering. This presentation awards attending employees two hours of professional development credit. Lunch will be provided.

As a #BigDReads partner, we hope this offering produces transparent conversations and culturally based learning opportunities in our classrooms, workspaces and other facets of life as we (un)learn the history of Dallas and commit to a more inclusive path forward.

Wednesday, Feb. 15
Event Time: 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Location: Cedar Valley Campus, Building H
Book signing to follow the event.



Cox Kiana, Edwards Khadijah. “Black Americans Have a Clear Vision for Reducing Racism but Little Hope It Will Happen,” Pew Research Center. August 30,2022.

German, Michael. Report, “Hidden in Plain Sight: Racism, White Supremacy, and Far-Right Militancy in Law Enforcement,” Brennan Center For Justice.

Frimpong, Kwadwo. “Black people are still seeking racial justice – why and what to do about it,” Brookings. Thursday, November 12, 2020. Editors. “Civil Rights Movement Timeline.” History. Updated: Jan 19, 2021. Original: Dec 4, 217. Publisher A&E Television Networks.

Howard University. “Black Lives Matter Movement.” Law Library Howard University School of Law.

National Urban League. “The Pulse of Black America.” April 2022  

State of Black America. The Pulse of Black America.

Published inSocial Responsibility and Inclusion