The Crusader Newspaper Group

Black children take a knee in protest, and are being called n—-rs and threatened with lynching

By Shaun King,

In the 1950s and 60s, civil rights leaders learned a powerful lesson and put it to good, painful work. It changed our country immeasurably and ultimately ushered in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

On streets, on buses, at lunch counters, at train stops and even on the doorsteps of elementary, middle and high schools — people, particularly young people, quietly and peacefully protested inequity, injustice and inhumane segregation. The protests were orderly and dignified. Students were consistently respectable and peaceful.

The plan was to show the world that the spirit of white supremacy, which served as the foundation of Jim Crow segregation and oppression, would act out with horrific ugliness if its limits were tested even a little bit. Their hypothesis was proven right.

Peaceful, beautiful protestors, ranging from children to old women, were beaten with sticks and clubs as they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. They were violently sprayed with full strength fire hoses and bitten by vicious police dogs under the direction of Birmingham Commissioner of Public Safety Eugene “Bull” Connor. Four little girls had their bodies blown to bits by a bomb at the 16th Street Baptist Church. In Greensboro and Nashville, mean-spirited whites would smile and laugh as they dumped milkshakes on the heads of protestors quietly sitting at the segregated Woolworth’s lunch counters. Tax-paying black folk who built up the nerve to go and vote would be told to recite the Constitution or guess how many bubbles were in a bar of soap.

When the family of 6-year-old Ruby Bridges honored the request of the NAACP for her to integrate William Frantz Elementary School in Louisiana, what happened next defied all logic. White families began removing their kids from the school. Only one teacher, a transplant from Boston, would agree to teach her and ended up being forced to teach her in a classroom all by herself.

Protesters consistently showed up to yell and scream obscenities at the little girl. She began praying every day as armed security escorted her through the hateful mob. One woman threatened to poison Ruby — forcing the child to only eat and drink food she bought from home. Another woman brought a black baby doll in a coffin to the protests. Her father lost his job. Her family was banned from the local grocery store. Her grandparents were kicked off of the land where they were sharecroppers.

All of this — because a little, bitty black girl attended a local elementary school.

I could write a book of these brave, but horrible stories. Ultimately, a mirror was put up close to the face of America and its ugliness was exposed for the whole world to see.

This weekend, children as young as 11 and 12 years old, inspired by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s decision to take a knee during “The Star Spangled Banner” as a protest against continued injustice and police brutality in America, decided to take their own knee to protest the injustice that has troubled them in America.

The Beaumont Bulls are a team of elementary and middle school-age boys from Beaumont, Texas. On Saturday morning, before their game, every player and coach decided to take a knee in solidarity with Kaepernick and the growing list of NFL players who have done the same thing. Within hours of the news breaking locally, parents say, death threats and racial slurs began pouring in.


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