This week’s reading on tactical media reminded me of an article I’d read for another class. This article talks about how Black Lives Matter uses social media, a technology that had never before been used/accessible to the black struggle. The author draws comparisons to the civil rights movement to contrast how BLM has control over the technologies it uses (whatever best fits their needs) and how civil rights activists had to be strategic about their actions in order to maximize their media coverage.
On the afternoon of Sunday, March 7, 1965, when voting-rights marchers in Selma, Alabama, were run down by policemen at the Edmund Pettus Bridge, the WATS lines were in heavy use. (“Here come the white hoodlums,” an activist said from a corner pay phone at 3:25 pm.) But the technology that was most important to the movement’s larger aims was not in activists’ hands at all: It was in a set of film canisters being ferried past police blockades on Highway 80 by an ABC News TV crew, racing for the Montgomery airport and heading to New York for an evening broadcast. That night, 48 million Americans would watch the scene in their living rooms, and a few days later Martin Luther King Jr. would lay bare the movement’s core media strategy. “We will no longer let them use their clubs on us in the dark corners,” he said. “We’re going to make them do it in the glaring light of television.
I’m also reminded of this photo from BLM, which I believe captures movement and its necessity.