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All Revved Up: The Democratic Idealism Of Black Lives Matter

A protester writes, "Black Lives Matter," on the ground with a chalk as protesters gather, Friday, Sept. 15, 2017, in downtown St. Louis, after a judge found a white former St. Louis police officer, Jason Stockley, not guilty of first-degree murder in the death of a black man, Anthony Lamar Smith, who was fatally shot following a high-speed chase in 2011.
Jeff Roberson/AP

The Civil Rights Movement produced symbolic leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. Today, movements like Black Lives Matter echo the sentiments of these civil rights activists, but have yet to produce such prominent figureheads. In a recent New York Times article, Barbara Ransby, an associate professor of history and African-American studies at University of Illinois at Chicago, argues that the lack of a central figure allows Black Lives Matter to become a powerful, decentralized democratic movement. 

Reverends Irene Monroe and Emmett Price joined Boston Public Radio Monday to discuss Ransby's commentary during All Revved Up. Price and Monroe both agreed with Ransby that the democratic structure of Black Lives Matter makes the movement strong from the lowest grassroots level to the top.

“It is called intersectional activism," said Monroe. “It gets away from this cult of personality, this charismatic leader. What it also does, is it empowers people like us not to look for one person to get up and make a change, but invites every one of us to make a change.”

Price says that having a few figureheads like those who came to the forefront during the Civil Rights Movement can also potentially be dangerous for the leaders, like it was during the 60s.

"In this type of politicking and this type of situation, that is essentially putting a new head on the bulls eye in order to get shot and killed and assassinated,” Price said.

Price added that movements like the Civil Rights Movement and Black Lives Matter are about more than just an individual.

“It is not so much about liking someone, it is about believing in something,” said Price. “The notion here is that people on the ground are better prepared to explore, express and enact democracy.”

Click on the audio player above to listen to the full interview with Reverends Irene Monroe and Emmett Price.

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