“They Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America’s Racial Justice Movement” is more than just a compilation of the circumstances that sparked a racial justice movement that was broadcast on social media before it hit TV screens and the front pages of newspapers.
The 2014 police shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black man, in Ferguson, Mo., is where it all began. And Wesley Lowery, a national reporter for the Washington Post, went there to cover the aftermath. In the book, his first, he allows the reader to parachute on his back into city after city as he chronicles black death after black death.
Lowery was on the streets filled with people demanding to be acknowledged, where he captured the distrust and fear of police. All of those dispatches culminated in a bulletproof argument for why black lives matter.
Lowery provides an anthropological examination of the movement, how civil rights protesting, long dormant, has been revived. He traces the wave of protests from Ferguson to Baltimore to Cleveland, with many stops in between.
The result is a vivid timeline of the movement from its origins to present day. And Lowery allows the voices of the new generation of activists, who have democratized reporting on unrest through real-time social media updates, to tell their stories.
“They Can’t Kill Us All” is a documentary on the awakening of young black Americans — no, all Americans — to the systemic injustices that weren’t erased with the election of President Obama.
“Any facade of a post-racial reality was soon melted away amid the all-consuming eight-year flame of racial reckoning that Obama’s election sparked,” Lowery writes.
There are vignettes on popular figures such as Johnetta Elzie, DeRay Mckesson and Shaun King, who rose to prominence in the wake of Ferguson. But it’s the lesser-known stories, like that of Oakland’s Alicia Garza, one of the founders of Black Lives Matter, that make the book captivating.
Lowery interviews students who have triggered protests. He talks to the families of the slain. He shares reporting tips. He reports on the struggles of activists to create a cogent message, and the infighting that accompanied newfound fame. Lowery even questions his role, and the mistakes he’s made.
Source: San Francisco Chronicle | Otis R. Taylor Jr.