Are Today’s Civil Rights Leaders Good Enough? (#BlackLivesMatter)

Are Today’s Civil Rights Leaders Good Enough? (#BlackLivesMatter)

Hello Rebels, and welcome back to my life.

So yesterday we talked about how most white people in America are more willing to protest about a lion being killed in Zimbabwe than they are to talk about American police killing innocent and unarmed black people.

And the only reason this issue is getting any attention at all is because there is a movement behind it. They are online, they are in the media, they continue to speak out against police brutality, and they are making a difference.

DeRay McKesson and Johnetta Elzie are two leaders of the #BlackLivesMatter movement who I have been following since Ferguson last year, and they have been subjected to constant, non-stop attack both online and off since the movement began.

These attacks come in the form of blatant, racist tirades, but they also come in the form of criticism designed to undermine DeRay and Johnetta’s credibility, and one of the most common forms this criticism takes is comparing them to Martin Luther King Jr.

King is, of course, one of the most revered figures in American history, one of the few people that nearly EVERYONE can agree had a net positive impact on the American way of life, and so it seems like such a sick burn to say DeRay and Johnetta “aren’t as good” as he was.

It’s also incredibly disrespectful to his legacy, betrays a blatant streak of both racism and faux-stalgia, and is incredibly stupid.

Let’s talk about the “stupid” part first. Martin Luther King lived from the 20’s to the 60’s. Our world is completely different from his world. America is a different country, even if African-americans face mostly the same threats.

Of course civil rights leaders today are different from King. Of course they focus on different issues, and of course they organize their protest differently. They live in THIS world, not the sixties.

Claiming they’re different and therefore inherently not as good as King is an illogical statement born from the demonstrably false idea that everything was better back in the old days, and nothing’s as good as it used to be.

Let’s face it. The people who rail against and post tirades about today’s civil rights leaders are the intellectual descendants of the exact same people who frothed rabidly about Martin Luther King Jr.’s activities when he was alive.

And incidentally, those people used to compare Martin Luther King Jr. unfavorably to people like Frederick Douglass, saying King was too much of a “rabble-rouser” and “troublemaker” and should have tried to be more like Douglass.

(Who himself was criticized when he was alive and working for abolition, of course).

The civil rights activists of the present are never good enough for these people, and they always want to hearken back to the time when black people “knew their place” and were “more respectful.”

I.e. when these critics’ narrow-minded, bigoted, racist viewpoints were respected and cherished by the very people those viewpoints were used to oppress.

There is not, and will never be, any civil rights movement that is good enough for these critics, because they don’t want a civil rights movement at all. They never highlight any protester in modern times who is doing it right, because there IS NO RIGHT WAY TO DO IT in their eyes.

They don’t want their racism and their societal privilege threatened, and the #BlackLivesMatter movement sure looks like a threat when your worldview is that warped and twisted.

To these people, the only safe civil rights activist is a dead civil rights activist. They can only praise the ones they’ve already killed. The dead ones are no danger, and provide no threat. Even worse, the dead ones can be used as weapons against the protesters of today.

Think about the perversion it takes to use Martin Luther King Jr.’s name to silence today’s civil rights activists. King was not quiet. He would not go away. He was nonviolent, but he was not peaceful. And he would not have told the #BlackLivesMatter movement to shut up and go home.

“Peace” is all fine and good until it’s used as a tool of suppression by the people in power. When you tell an oppressed minority that you want “peace,” what you mean is that you want their submission. And frankly, they’re not buying that crap any more.

Thank you for watching, Rebels. As I said yesterday, my voice is not the important one in this conversation. Please look in the description to find links to many modern civil rights activists who I think you should be listening to.

A special shoutout to my supporters on Patreon, who make my whole YouTube channel possible, particularly my sponsors, and I will see you all tomorrow. Byyye.

Garrett Robinson

Over 100,000 readers have read and loved Garrett's books, like the fantasy hits Nightblade and Midrealm. He's also a film festival favorite with movies like Unsaid, and a tech guru who posts lots of helpful how-tos for writers and filmmakers over at

Share This