Black Lives Mattered Way Before Everyone Got Woke On Social Media

The article's cover image above, displays the activism that took place in 2015 in many cities across South Africa. It’s went under the hashtag #FeesMustFall and #NationalShutdown. Apparently, there was a price hike that prompted students to pay more for their education.

This obviously didn’t sit too well with the students, who had been paying so much already to be admitted to University. The key drivers of conversations have been shared through blog posts but mostly through social media — most specifically Twitter.

Most traditional media picked this up once the protests spread across the country. Some universities closed, disrupting exams and normal lessons.

This kind of activism has largely been fueled by social media, a way to easily gain the attention of the public. but this is not exactly new. A recent longform piece Get Up, Stand Up on WIRED, by Bijan Stephen coincidentally confirms this:

"In the 1960s, if you were a civil rights worker stationed in the Deep South and you needed to get some urgent news out to the rest of the world—word of a beating or an activist’s arrest or some brewing state of danger—you would likely head straight for a telephone.

From an office or a phone booth in hostile territory, you would place a call to one of the major national civil rights organizations. But you wouldn’t do it by dialing a standard long-distance number. That would involve speaking first to a switchboard operator—who was bound to be white and who might block your call. Instead you’d dial the number for something called a Wide Area Telephone Service, or WATS, line.

Like an 800 line, you could dial a WATS number from anywhere in the region and the call would patch directly through to the business or organization that paid for the line—in this case, say, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee." - Bijan Stephen, WIRED

Get Up, Stand Up, itself named after the 1980 song by the legendary Bob Marley, details some of the efforts it took to get the word out there, before the Twitters, Facebooks and Periscopes of the world. This kind of activism didn’t get the same amount of eye roll that most posts on social media today get but they did play a huge part in spreading the voice for the movement.

It dates back before what some people today would call “seeking needless attention,” a time when civil rights movements took a profound shift in how our society treated POC. But with social media it takes a new form, its “a global square” where whether or not it spells the death of some mediums, it’s highly likely it will proceed to the next.

It’s a great time to be alive because it accelerates change. The change that has long tarnished our communities in the worst way possible.

Cover Image, Wits Fees Must Fall

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