Now, what on earth are they thinking!?!? Civil Rights Movement icons mashed up with Twitter? No way! I’m reticent to post these here, but some of them are just too good to pass up, and I’ve seen a lot of screencaps (with the original tweeters removed) on Instagram, and very few if any on Tumblr. So here is the Trigger Warning: DISRESPECTFUL to many of your faves from the CRM. None of these here feature the overly lewd or straight up sexual, so when people complain about it, that response is appropriate. After all you can’t hold a humorous crowd-sourced event, and not expect some people to take it too far. Many featured here and others seen were spot on about the behind the scenes tensions that we only found out about later.
Yet here is a history note, this isn’t the FIRST time it trended, just the latest and most creative. Back in August, where there was quite a lot brou-ha-ha over the personal lives of prominent Black Lives Matter activists, and some division around similar issues (i. e. DreamHampton) only then what it so poignant was it was beef between “older” civil rights people or media professionals & the younger generation. The catalyst for this one involved three young and very prominent ones. Each time however it started, and was intended to highlight the humanity of the former civil rights leaders and interpret them for social media.
That portraying that humanity, and how it might have taken place IF the tools we have now were available in the 60s is crucial. What fascinated me reading most of these is that they really only focus on the sexual proclivities of the messianic males who held sway, and are remembered now through hagiography and a veneer. They were real people, and honestly wish that many of the more sharper (less sexual) divisions were highlighted. No one has yet mentioned Abernathy, and his book with one paragraph revealed the indiscretions of MLK. Which saw him roundly erased from history and pilloried by every CRM person still alive. After all his hard work, being a right-hand man and pivotal in the movement, he was drummed out.
Plus no one ever talks (as much as they quote him these days as their go to source) how acebric, and down right nasty James Baldwin was, in fact his letters do all but prove it. Yet they won’t be released and his white lover sure enough is trying to keep them away from prying eyes. Even though in seeing that, it wouldn’t erase his brilliance but show him for a peckish & oft nasty person. Yet he earned that when people like Eldridge Cleaver or James Ellison are calling him ‘jive ass’ and hurling other homophobic slurs and slanders his way. He earned the right to be nasty, but let us not pretend they all got along.
Again, astute history students would read Soul on Ice, or other things now, and perhaps even miss the sub-tweet level of shade that is in those works, but talk with any of the remaining luminaries, as I had the once-in-a-lifetime chance to do years ago and you’ll know that they called each other everything but a child of god. In days of yore that would remain within the community, not be so available for the white gaze, or take place in these Twitter streets. Yet the same locus, the same clash of egos, and all that makes us human while doing this work, would be there. It is important to remember them as humans, that fail & stray, and yet still can accomplish great things. However, and I’ll reserve this for a much later & longer piece, think that some of the current actors, or participants aren’t very strategic in how they think or use their activism. That these critiques which often get lumped in with the trolls or swatted away like Right-Wing attacks, or the pile-ons that happen when you are hypervisible on Twitter.
But again, we knew this was coming, even before it happened: