Black Contemporary Social Movements, Resource Mobilization, and Black Musical Activism
University of Georgia Law School
August 5, 2016
Law and Contemporary Problems, Vol. 79, 2016
UGA Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2016-28
In the last few years a grassroots social movement has emerged from the Black community. This movement aims to eliminate police and vigilante violence against Blacks nationwide. Blacks in America have long been subjected to this violence, and the issue has recently captured the country’s attention. Multiple groups are pressing for change, including Ferguson Action, Black Lives Matter, Say Her Name, and the leaderless social media effort organized by DeRay McKesson and Johnetta Elzie, to name a few. These fledgling activist groups have already experienced some success, garnering public attention and government response. As it currently stands, this nascent civil-rights movement has the potential to advance racial justice in twenty-first century America, but its path is not without obstacles.
According to social-movement theory, the ability of activists to further marshal support is vital to the continued development of this civil-rights movement. Whether engaging in street-level activism or pursuing formal change through judicial, legislative, or electoral processes, movement organizers will have to think rationally and strategically about resource mobilization and oppositional forces. At a minimum, they must amass money and manpower for their activities, establish group credibility in the eyes of their participants and the public, and remain sensitive to the costs of movement participation imposed by government officials and counter-movements.
To address these concerns, social-movement theory and history reveal that Black music and musicians can and should play a key role in Black America’s next-generation battle for criminal justice and civil rights. Social-movement activists should draw Black musicians, especially hip-hop artists, into the movement fold, encouraging Black musicians to initiate a massive wave of cultural activism.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 24
Keywords: social movement, music, cultural activism, Ferguson Action, Black Lives Matter, Say Her Name
JEL Classification: K39
Date posted: August 6, 2016