History is rewritten for white comfort

Hillary Teixeira, Reporter

Martin Luther King Jr and Rosa Parks are irrefutably the faces of the American Civil Rights Movement. Despite their prominent role in elementary and high school education, the history of these well-known activists are whitewashed and shaped according to the comfort of white Americans. Contrary to popular belief, Rosa Parks never sat in the “Whites-Only Section” but instead refused to move further back for the new white passengers to take her seat. Rosa Parks was an avid Civil Rights activist, not “some black person who just got tired of racism.”  

Where in these lessons are the church and house bombings carried out by white supremacists, FBI phone tappings searching for grounds to falsely imprison activists, and assassinations of civil rights leaders?

Civil rights groups like the Black Panther Party in the 60s, who aimed to protect black people from police violence, taught self-defense and fed their community, was one of these civil rights groups.

The Black Liberation Army who emerged as an underground wing of the Black Panthers in the 70s practiced violent direct action. They carried out prison breaks and targeted and killed drug dealers and cops. These groups were essential to the changes that occurred, they showed strength and diversity in the opinions of the civil rights movement, the Black Liberation Army showed that not every activist group would allow themselves to be beaten without returning the pain.

Truthful history tells of more white opposition to equality, more death, and bloodshed on the activist’s part and injustice ordered and allowed towards protesters, like the Freedom Riders, a group of 13 activists who in 1961 would ride buses into the south in protest of segregation.

The rides never went without attacks from the opposing side, when they reached the blockade in Birmingham, Alabama, police allowed them to be brutally beaten by armed domestic terrorists and Klansmen.

The narrative that is being enforced is one where white America comes to their senses and ends segregation and establishes equal voting rights for all Americans, challenging the fraud that occurred with ballots (being thrown out or counted to the conservatives), the violence, poll taxes and literacy tests that occurred within the lines to the polls which the south used to keep who they saw “unworthy” away with the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

In reality, when the movement was in progress (and decades after through the war on drugs and gangs which brought unnecessary death and violence to black communities), Black people, no matter their involvement, were imprisoned and assaulted like those who marched from Selma to Montgomery for equal voting rights, the same people who were beaten bloody by police for not turning back.

The constant brutality from law enforcement and the crimes against black people and their communities that were overlooked, like the bombings and the relaxed regulation of the KKK, further established modern relationships between communities of color and law enforcement.

By refusing to acknowledge those who had major influence simply because their narratives were different than the forged cookie-cutter images of “acceptable” activists is to erase the real history of Black activism in America.