On Friday Aug. 28, conservative talk show host Glenn Beck led an “All Lives Matter” march in Birmingham, Alabama, where 20,000 people expressed their solidarity for the rally, marching from Kelly Ingram Park to Birmingham City Hall.
The Campanil understands the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement. We felt that this march was insulting to the work of the movement and location.The choice to march with the slogan “All Lives Matter” proves to be problematic. The slogan undermines, ignores and erases the experiences of Black people, especially with police brutality and deaths of Black people by police officers.
Beck organized the march to help raise awareness and money for the “Never Again is Now” campaign, which helps persecuted Christians in the Middle East. Supporters such as actors Jon Voight and Chuck Norris and Alveda King, Martin Luther King’s niece, participated in the march.
Because of this, we feel that Beck not only inserted himself in this movement in a negative way, but he changed it to support his own agenda. Beck has taken a movement that three queer women of color created to point out injustices against Black people, and did not mention it in his march. It appeared to us that Beck and the 20,000 people did not truly understand the wrongness in this march.
Also, the choice to hold such a march in Birmingham appeared problematic. Birmingham is one of many places where Black people and allies fought for justice in the civil rights movement. Beck also appeared to undermine this, making this march his stomping ground to further his conservative and religious views. We believe that it would have made sense for Beck to hold this march for solely the “Never Again is Now” campaign; it would have been more respectful to do so. In fact, Beck could have even held the march under a less problematic name.
Because of the 20,000 people marching in this rally, we also wondered about the potential consequences of holding a rally if it were involved with the Black Lives Matter movement, or any other marginalized group. We recognize that Beck was privileged in holding this rally; his beliefs and agenda supports the institutionalized racism in the U.S., and anything that opposes those views (i.e. the Sep. 2 protest for the death of Freddie Gray) shows that many of its participants and protesters end up arrested. We also wondered: Will matters like this march in the U.S. ever stop?
As editors, journalists and students at Mills, we recognize the importance of social justice; we are in a hub that holds a strong history for social justice. Oakland is in the center of the Black Lives Matter movement, and it is important that we help to raise this movement instead of matters like those in the All Lives Matter march.