It started as a hashtag but it’s everywhere you look nowadays. I am referring to the meme “Black lives matter,” which is now being offered as a course at some universities and as a merit badge for one brownie troop. Sadly, the phrase has also become a feeble excuse for the commission of bad acts, if not an all-out mockery of itself.
But even when used in earnest by those who believe, rightly or wrongly, that recent events demand a credo of this sort, something has been missing. And now a civil rights activist who marched with Martin Luther King back in the day has corrected that deficiency. His name is Fred Davis, he served as the first black chairman on the Memphis City Council, and he has erected a billboard in town that reads: “Black lives matter. So let’s quit killing each other.”
In an interview with ABC Memphis affiliate WMC, Davis said it’s high time black people realize they need to stop violence against each other:
We’re going to have to wake up. We’re going to have to say to ourselves that black lives matter, and we’re going to have to refrain from killing each other out of our own frustration.
I can speak, not from reading a book about the history, because I was a part of the history. I think that gives me a license as an experienced observer to push and to advocate to the black community — let’s stop it.
The question now is whether the message will resonate with those it’s intended to reach. WMC notes that Davis has been behind other “controversial” (their word) billboards, including one discouraging young black males from wearing saggy pants. Will Davis be seen the way Bill Cosby is — as a traitor to the black community? Will this latest campaign be viewed as an effort to address a genuine societal ill or an attempt to divert blame from the “people of privilege” who deserve it?
Time will tell.
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