How the Past Echoes in the Protests: A Historian’s Recommended Reads

In the weeks since the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and George Floyd, marches against racism and police brutality have swept the United States and cities around the world. To help make sense of this moment, award-winning historian Keisha N. Blain offers this curated collection of articles by black writers on the history of black protest, the legacy of state violence, and why these demonstrations might yet be different.

We Are Living in a Red Spring

Robert Greene II • Jacobin

In the Red Summer of 1919, racist violence hit America as the Spanish flu ravaged the country. With mass protests against police murders sweeping the pandemic-plagued United States, it appears we might be now living in a Red Spring.

The Minneapolis Uprising in Context

Elizabeth Hinton • Boston Review

A proper understanding of urban rebellion depends on our ability to interpret it not as a wave of criminality, but as political violence.

The American Nightmare

Ibram X. Kendi • The Atlantic

To be black and conscious of anti-black racism is to stare into the mirror of your own extinction.

About the curator

Keisha N. Blain is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Pittsburgh and author of the multi-prize-winning book, Set the World on Fire: Black Nationalist Women and the Global Struggle for Freedom (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018). Blain is currently a 2019-2020 W.E.B. Du Bois Fellow in the Hutchins Center at Harvard University. Follow her on Twitter @KeishaBlain.

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