"What we’re seeing now is that black people across the world are learning from each other’s strategies of liberation and we’re replicating that and we’re building from it."|
Maria Hernandez, Black Lives Matter – Chicago
As you’ve read through this challenge, the brutal realities of slavery and racial discrimination has led to generations of civil rights struggles for African Americans. The fight for civil rights has been waged in workshops and on plantations; on Civil War battlefields; and later in courtrooms, on the streets, and through the daily lives of many Americans.
Let’s take a moment to consider how the skills of problem solving and agility connect with the fight for African American civil rights.
Leaders, activists, and other individuals facing inequality and discrimination have used problem solving skills like critical thinking to solve problems during every step of the struggle for progress. During the civil rights movement, critical thinking was essential for providing evidence to overcome unfair discrimination laws and to demand equal opportunities and fair treatment. Critical thinking also played a key role as people carefully chose the strategies and types of communication that would best fit their circumstances.
The struggle for civil rights demanded a high degree of persistence and agility from those involved. Over the course of only a century, black Americans in the South experienced slavery, Reconstruction, Jim Crow laws, and the hope that came with the civil rights movement. The racism embedded in society and culture was ever present, but its form changed over time—from slavery to segregation, for example. Agility helped people adapt to changing circumstances, figure out how to survive, and find new ways to work for change.
The two events we discussed at the beginning of this challenge—the election of a black president and the rise of Black Lives Matter—illustrate the achievements of the civil rights movement but also the need for continued progress. Engagement in civil rights is a legacy, an essential part of American heritage that must be carried forward into the future. There is plenty of work still to do dealing with intergenerational poverty, police and criminal justice reform, racism that intersects with the oppression of other groups, and many other areas of systemic racism.
Today, many people are looking critically at the criminal justice system, places of business, professions, and education systems to see how they either support or hinder civil rights in the United States. As we’ve seen this week, communication, agility, and problem solving are some of their most critical tools.
Source: Strategic Education, Inc. 2020. Learn from the Past, Prepare for the Future.