The Black Lives Matter movement has become increasingly popular in recent months—an increase of about 200 percent of public support, according to a June Washington Post-Schar School poll. With numerous protests spawning as a result of the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, #BLM has raised its profile to reflect that of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.
With the 1960s in mind, the Schar School of Policy and Government Alumni Chapter on Monday held a panel discussion comparing and contrasting the movements, with an emphasis on law enforcement and public policy.
The discussion was moderated by Schar School Associate Professor Jeremy Mayer and the panelists included Schar School Master’s in Public Administration alumna Capt. Tina Laguna, Assistant Chief of Police for the City of Manassas and the first African American woman to hold that office; David Baugh, a trial lawyer who was active in the Civil Rights movement with the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis (Ga.-D); and David Ramadan, an American-Lebanese adjunct public policy professor at the Schar School and a former Republican representative to Virginia State legislature.
There is a distinct difference between the Civil Rights Movement and Black Lives Matter, said Mayer at the outset.
“The Civil Rights Movement had deep roots,” said Mayer. “There were men—and some women— involved that had been working on civil rights for African Americans for 20, 30, 40, 50 years before the Montgomery Bus Boycott.” In contrast, said Mayer, Black Lives Matter does not have that deep roots, it’s not as institutionalized.
But that lack of institutionalization has not stopped the movement.
“The movement has succeeded—unlike in the ‘60s—[in creating] huge change that is already taking place on the ground, and without any organized movement,” said Ramadan.