Mike Brown. Eric Garner. Tamir Rice. The deaths of young black men–and the lack of indictments for the policemen who killed them–have ignited outrage and urgent conversations on the structural racism of the criminal justice system and the fraught state of race relations in the United States. The following list links to articles that utilize historical perspective while participating in contemporary discussions of racism and police violence.
- Khalil Gibran Muhammad, author of The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America, writes about the historical relationship between racial fear and violence in the wake of the grand jury decision for Darren Wilson’s shooting of Mike Brown.
- On the 45th anniversary of the assassination of Black Panther leader Fred Hampton, Democracy Now! compiled historical footage in their report on “The Assassination of Fred Hampton: How the FBI and the Chicago Police Murdered a Black Panther.”
- Sarah Kendzior discusses Ferguson’s racial strife in the context of 250th anniversary commemoration of the founding of St. Louis.
- Responding to the death of Eric Garner after being placed in a chokehold by police, Mother Jones points to a 1983 Supreme Court case in which “Thurgood Marshall Blasted Police for Killing Black Men With Chokeholds.”
- Invoking the title of a 1951 petition to the United Nations, Chicago activist group “We Charge Genocide” recently presented a report to the United Nations Committee Against Torture on police brutality in Chicago.
- A months-old but persistently relevant #longread by Ta-Nehisi Coates at The Atlantic: “The Case for Reparations.”
This brief list only contains only one article by academic historian. Why aren’t more historians contributing to the national discussion on race, police brutality, and the criminal justice system? Please post additional links in the comments of any articles that employ a critical historical perspective in addressing these current events.