Black Lives Matter (BLM), which led to the Black Lives Matter movement (BLMM), has been described as a movement with a global following. The movement is aligned with the social work profession’s purpose and values. The social work profession is a human rights profession and has a history of involvement with movements, beginning with the settlement house movement in the late 19th century. The BLMM frames its narrative based on human rights and espouses an agenda that calls out injustice in all facets of social justice. Therefore, a central aim is to understand the BLMM from multiple perspectives. Definitions, theoretical perspectives, and types of social movements are presented, and then the framework of social movements is used to understand the BLMM. Finally, the BLMM is examined in relation to historical social movements, advocacy organizations, and criminal justice reform.
Mildred Delozia and Charles M. S. Birore
William Ayers, Rick Ayers, and Joel Westheimer
Social movements change the world. Thus, they shape curriculum. Participation in movements educates the public by altering viewpoints and actions. Likewise, participants learn through participation in social movements; therefore, social movements can be considered curricula. The experiences of social movements are curricula that exist in and out of schools. Examples of the myriad connections among school curriculum, nonschool curriculum, and social movements interact in dynamic fluidity. Curriculum is much more than a course syllabus, set of plans, or the indoctrinations or liberations intended by schools. Curriculum includes all experiences of schooling and contexts that influence schooling: intended, taught, tested, hidden, excluded, outside, peer-driven, and more. It encompasses knowledge, relationships, and interpretations that students bring to school or anywhere else. These multiple dimensions of curriculum also exist in the diverse experiences, institutions, and gatherings of everyday life. Alternative forms of curriculum have been envisioned and enacted over the centuries to overcome the dominance of autocratic forms of education. Social movements educate and are therefore curricular. A noteworthy example of curricula of social movements is the Civil Rights Movement, particularly the Mississippi Freedom Schools in the United States. Another example is the Highlander Folk School in Tennessee, founded by Myles Horton and based on the Danish model of folk schools, which was a center of inspiration and praxis for participants in the Civil Rights Movement. Emancipatory educational movements are exemplified in the problem-posing work of Paulo Freire, initially in Brazil, evolving to counter the oppressiveness of “banking” forms of education in many parts of the world. Freire has shown how oppressed persons could be major creators of their own education, by learning to name, write, and read the world to compose a more just world. In the second decade of the 21st century, young climate activists, such as Xiye Bastida and Greta Thunberg, have advocated ecological renewal; this has grown into a worldwide movement, captured in the title “Fridays for Future.” Local examples include the insightful stories in The Journal of Ordinary Thought, inspired and evoked by Hal Adams and authored by the parents of students in some of Chicago’s most impoverished Black neighborhoods in the late 20th century. Global movements include Black Lives Matter, which has manifested itself as an act of solidarity in the second decade of the 21st century. Social movements, of which the contributions of Martin Luther King, Jr. are an emblematic example, teach the power of learning and the learning of power. They help raise the deepest and most worthwhile questions: What does it mean to be human? Who am I in relation to others? What kind of a society do we want to create? How can schools and other public spaces become generative sites of contention and authentic engagement? That is where a curriculum of social movements comes to life. What lessons might educators learn from the examples of a curriculum of social movements? How should we live? How will we live? What will you do about it?