Race & Social Movements Today

The three essays in this section all focus on the connections between modern-day social movements and the past movements that serve as their ideological and historical base.  In her essay, Anna Cumming seeks to explain why so many anti-Semitic groups were drawn to the Charlottesville, VA demonstrations, despite the fact that these demonstrations were ostensibly aiming to preserve Confederate statuary that had been constructed to provide physical monuments to white refusal of civil rights for African-Americans. Cumming argues that an undercurrent of anti-Semitism has continued to run throughout American society since the end of World War II, and that the presence of anti-Semitic groups and rhetoric at Charlottesville should not be seen as some kind of historical anomaly, but rather as one more iteration in a continuous pattern of anti-Semitic rhetoric and actions. Marlo Buser’s essay on the American Nazi Party complements Cumming’s essay, as it seeks to delve into one specific historic anti-Semitic social movement and on how that movement has influenced modern extreme-right politics. The essay also studies the links between anti-Semitic and racist movements cultivated by the ANP’s leader, George Lincoln Rockwell. Rockwell’s white power rhetoric  may help to further explain why anti-Semitic organizations joined with Southern “heritage” groups at Charlottesville. On the other side of the coin, McKayla Sluga’s essay on Black Lives Matter and the way the movement utilizes art, provides the reader with a window into the movement at the forefront of resisting the extreme-right, racist groups that were present at Charlottesville. Sluga’s analysis of how BLM art seeks to change the current cultural milieu into one that does not allow for racism to flourish. It also examines the movements that have influenced BLM to become what it is today, especially the 1960s-70s Black Arts Movement. All these essays share a common goal: to show that no movement arises out of a vacuum and to explain how the historical movements behind present movements continue to influence their rhetoric and potential future trajectory.