Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
-- George Santayana, 1905 The Life of Reason
-- Paley Center for Media
During the 1950s the struggle for civil rights came to a head at the same time television began to appear in most Americans' homes.
At the beginning of the decade, television was a novelty owned by very few people. By 1960 ninety percent of American homes had television. Television became a catalyst for change on a massive scale. People in the northern states could see what was happening in Selma, Birmingham, and Memphis and vice versa.
In addition, television helped Southern blacks unify, for while local Southern media rarely covered news involving racial issues, they now had access to national newscasts that were witnessing and documenting this revolution.
-- Mursalata Muhammad
During the 2000s the struggle for civil rights became transformed as mobile technology and social media began to appear in most Americans' lives.
At the beginning of the decade, social media was a novelty which engaged few people. By 2015, "nearly two-thirds of American adults (65%) use social networking sites" (Perrin, 2015, Pew Research). Social media became a catalyst for massive global social change. People around the world could see what was happening nearly everywhere and anytime. For one specific American social issue - post civil rights police violence - people could see what was happening between police and people of color in any given location and time.
In addition, social media helped empower blacks and others, for while local, national, and international media rarely covered news involving the specific racial issue of police killings, they now had access to technology that move from being witnesses to being the producers of newscasts that documented the events of this 21-century revolution.
- What will we do with this revolutionary moment?
- Allow it to become history we can repeat?
- Will we do something that prevents the same problem that arrested our development in the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries from becoming our twenty-second century problem?