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  • Dana Barrett

The BLM Movement: A Quick History

There’s no way to ignore everything happening in the media right now. Every time we turn on the television there’s news of another march, of buildings burning in another city or of another protest turned violent. Every time we open Instagram or Twitter, our feeds are flooded with black screens or hashtags blaring a message of solidarity. On top of all that, we’re still in the midst of a global pandemic. To many, this may feel like the beginning of a revolution but, in reality, the actions we’re witnessing today are not just about the murder of George Floyd. They are the result of a sequence of events and pent up frustration against existing systems of oppression spanning over two hundred, manifesting themselves into anger, protests and hashtags.

Here are ten events that have contributed to the creation of the worldwide movement we are witnessing first-hand.

1. Nat Turner’s Rebellion (1831) -

  • A small group of slaves from Virginia in an act of revolt killed their owners and approximately 65 others before the rebellion was put down

  • This act spread fear rapidly in slave owners throughout the South and implied that slaves were neither happy nor submissive with their roles in society

2. American Civil War (1861)

  • After the Emancipation Proclamation, prohibiting slavery in the United States, African-Americans joined the army in large numbers, something they were unable to do before

  • Despite segregation from the white troops they used their resilience, strength and bravery to fight against the South who wanted to continue using black labour for their personal profit

3. Establishment of the NAACP (1909)

  • This was a group created by a circle of black intellectuals who wanted to work collectively to get rid of segregation and various systems of discrimination

  • They were inspired by those before them who had fought for the abolition of slavery

4. Harlem Renaissance (1920)

  • After a large migration of black Americans from the South to the North they released of a large amount of African-American artwork and artforms that called out the racial inequalities of the American system

5. Harlem Race Riot (1935)

  • After the public was misinformed that the police had killed a young black boy for shoplifting, a riot broke out in Harlem, one considered to be America’s first race riot

  • This event was triggered by financial hardships from the Great Depression with less jobs, unfair rent prices on top of already existing racial issues (these should sound familiar, they mirror the circumstances of many due to COVID-19)

6. Murder of Emmett Till (1955)

  • Till was a 14 year old boy who was tortured then murdered by two white men, one of whose wife had said Till tried to flirt with her, who were later acquitted

  • His mother held an open casket funeral and his brutalized body gained both national and international attention inciting the start of Civil Rights Movement

7. Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott (1955)

  • After being arrested for refusing to give her seat to a white man on the bus, Parks inspired thousands of African Americans to boycott the bus system of which they made up 70% of the clientele

  • This Civil Rights Movement over the next decade would see the rise of various events that were acts of resistance including Freedom Rides, the Selma to Montgomery March and the famous “I Have a Dream Speech”

8. Creation of the Black Panther Party (1966)

  • This was an organization made up of black youth who encouraged black nationalism and used their right to bear arms to protect black communities from police brutality

9. Los Angeles Riots (1992)

  • After severely beating Rodney King, who was being arrested, four officers who were caught on video were acquitted from charges of police brutality

  • This prompted riots throughout LA within hours of the verdict from outraged African Americans that caused about $1 Billion in damage

10. Black Lives Matter Movement (2013) and George Floyd Protests (2020)

  • The movement with this name began in 2013, as a hashtag after George Zimmerman, a civilian who murdered 17 year old Trayvon Martin, was acquitted

  • It became more well-known for their protests after the murders of Michael Brown and Eric Garner

The Black Lives Matter Movement is one that is fairly new, but its intent remains the same as various revolts, movements and actions in African-American history. The fight for racial equality is not what’s new, our globalized mindset, our rapid and widespread communication and our unfaltering unity is what’s new. Next time you find yourself seeing people scream, march, cry, just remember this movement was inevitable and as much as we look back at history, we have to remember we are also witnessing it.


Duncan, G. A. (2020, April 2). Black Panther Party. Retrieved June 8, 2020, from

Hassler, W. W., & Weber, J. L. (2020, April 5). African American troops. Retrieved June 8, 2020, from Editors. (2009, October 14). Black History Milestones: Timeline. Retrieved June 8, 2020, from Editors. (2009, October 29). Harlem Renaissance. Retrieved June 8, 2020, from

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. (2020, March 12). Harlem Race Riot of 1935. Retrieved June 8, 2020, from

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. (2020, February 5). Nat Turner. Retrieved June 8, 2020, from

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