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Black History Month, the next chapter

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- Black History Month in 2021 is looked at through a different lens than years before. A milestone was made once Kamala Harris became the first Black woman to be elected vice-president. However, the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and many others has continued an everyday fight for equality and equity for Black people.

It's a battle that began decades ago, and today's movement is a continuation that's reaching its next chapter.

Dr. Mahmoud El-Kati

"The Black Lives Matter movement is but an extension of the Civil Rights Movement because they have reawakened people to that struggle," said Dr. Mahmoud El-Kati, Macalester College African American studies professor, and civil rights advocate.

He said the current fight against injustice is another chapter of the civil rights movement.

"They're exhuming some of the old things that we did in the 60s, the way that it looks. Except, it's more powerful than it was in the 1960s It makes the 60s look like child's play. Why do I say that? Because we've gone beyond America. This movement is generally an international movement," El-Kati said.

The movement went international after the death of George Floyd. But, the original civil rights demonstrations began in the South.

Pastor Earle Fisher

"Most people would say that Memphis is ground zero for the civil rights movement. They usually say that that's because of Dr. King and his untimely death," said Pastor Earle Fisher, Memphis civil rights activist.
"People also don't know that there wouldn't be the 14th Amendment if there was not for the Memphis Massacre that took place in the late 1800s which really rooted in this race riot in response to some police brutality."

The 1950s and 1960s and were pivotal decades for the civil rights movement from the Greensboro sit ins, protesting against segregation,
to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's "I have a dream" speech.

"In the 60s the conversation was primarily about equality, but in the 21st century the conversation is and rightfully so more about equity," Fisher said.

Wale Elegbede with Rep. John Lewis

"When a Black person or African American or minority does something, you know, there is quick conviction but when somebody else does something, you get a slap on the wrist," said Wale Elegbede, Rochester NAACP President. "We're on a cusp where we have the opportunity to really demand more big changes. But change is not going to come if we don't put in the work."

And one group putting in hard labor are younger activists.

Courtney Armborst
Courtesy: Drew Arrieta

"I don't think our generation is going to take any nos. There's no ifs, ands or buts about it. This is what we want and we're going to get it no matter what it takes. We're going after it," said 26-year-old civil rights activis Courtney Armborst.

"I feel like it's always a continuation and there's always going to be new people. More people need to have humanity as a career. That's a Martin Luther King quote that I love because it's pivotal. It changes the way we look at things," said 28-year-old civil rights activist Zachary Metzer (Lavish Mack).

Metzger walked 730 miles in solidarity from where George Floyd died to Breonna Taylor's home.

Courtesy: Zachary Metzgar

"I feel like I am really walking in my purpose," he said.

As for the elders of the movement, they encourage those younger to always keep in mind their ancestors' journey as the mission continues.

"Right now, we are in a place where 'American' is breaking up from what it was and it's becoming something else," El-Kati said.

"I salute and stand in solidarity, with every meaningful measure of resistance against white supremacy and all forms of bigotry. So I salute all of those who are marching and I ask them to continue to do that. And also make sure that those marching and organizing efforts are connected to the cultivation of institutions, organizations, and a society that is more just," Fisher said.

What is the next chapter for Black history?

"As my mother would say, 'that we are always living our history today,' and I think she's absolutely right. I think to underscore both the symbolism and progress through Vice President Kamala Harris, the election of Barack Obama; I think the next step is for us to continue to advocate and organize and to mobilize people to ensure that there are more policies and that these aren't exceptions that fall in line with the rules," Fisher said.

Courtesy: Drew Arrieta

"I think it's a generation of people that have a little bit more punch. They're more driven to get the work done in ways that may hit the pockets of the rich. It's going to be equity and it's going to be us taking what is ours. So when it comes to Black History I think, we're on a new wave," Armborst said.

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KaMaria Braye

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