Relate the Black Power movement with the Black Lives Matter movement. Do they deal with the same issues? What strategies does each employ? What goals do they have? Which strategies and goals do you...

Relate the Black Power movement with the Black Lives Matter movement. Do they deal with the same issues? What strategies does each employ? What goals do they have? Which strategies and goals do you think are most realistic or viable?

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pnrjulius eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are a lot of parallels between the Black Power movement and the Black Lives Matter movement. Obviously, both movements are about advancing the rights of Black people in the US. Both movements are also complex, decentralized social movements with no clear leadership and varied, often conflicting objectives.

The Black Lives Matter movement had a clear triggering event, the public attention given to a number of high-profile killings of young Black men by police officers, facilitated by social media and the Internet. As a result, their grievance is very specific---police killings.

The Black Power movement did not have such a clear triggering event, but grew over time as a response to the widespread discrimination against Black people in the US both in law and in practice. Their grievances were much broader, and included everything from segregation of schools to intimidation of Black voters. Indeed, it also included police brutality against Black people.

The Black Power movement was in many ways more divisive than the Black Lives Matter movement; part of the Black Power agenda was a sense of unity and pride in being Black that sometimes bordered on separatism or Black supremacy (an odd mirror of the far more common White supremacy). Of course, not all members of the movement supported these ideas; in fact it may even have been a minority, but definitely an influential one.

The tactics of both movements were quite varied, and overlapped with each other a great deal. Protest marches, disruptions of other people's events, and even calls for Black people to arm themselves against police or White people in general have been part of both movements. Both movements were linked to riots.

The Black Power movement had a number of important successes, as part of the more general successes of the Civil Rights movement as a whole; segregation was eliminated under the law (albeit not always in practice), voting rights for Black people were given much stronger protections, anti-discrimination statutes were established, and schools began teaching about African culture and heritage that they had previously suppressed or ignored.

They also had a number of failures, not only against de facto segregation and discrimination, but also in their broader socialist agenda, which was wildly unpopular in the US during the 1960s and 1970s and likely contributed to the animosity felt toward them by the general population. Almost none of the socialist reforms they asked for were implemented, not even the relatively simple ones like public housing (and certainly not the more radical ones like collectivization of industry). Such a radical socialist agenda was clearly dead on arrival in the 1960s US, and probably wouldn't fare all that well today (though I'm sure it would do better than it did then).

It remains to be seen whether Black Lives Matter will have such successes. Its narrow focus is a double-edged sword; on the one hand it could have very well-defined success if reforms are implemented to reduce police shootings, but on the other hand once that happens or has clearly failed to happen the movement serves no other function. Unlike the Black Power movement it doesn't really have broader goals to turn to once the initial objective is completed. Indeed, aside from its goal of ending police shootings, its policy agenda has been surprisingly weak; several times policymakers (notably Presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton) have asked them for a specific policy agenda and they've largely failed to deliver one. Campaign Zero tried to fill that gap, but its specific agenda hasn't been adopted by the movement as a whole and still isn't entirely clear about how it would achieve its goals.

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