The Lost Art of the Black Boycott in America
On June 15th, 1953 the black community of Baton Rouge, Louisiana staged the first municipal boycott of the 20th century. I’m using this factual event to ask the African American community why we are not using this strategy in 2018? I’m not confusing non-violent protest with the boycott, I am referencing the difference to not forget one of the essential reasons blacks remain important to white America, money! The dictionary definition of boycott is: to engage in a concerted refusal to have dealings with (a person, a store, an organization, etc.) usually to express disapproval or to force acceptance of certain conditions
To end the 1953 boycott, the white power structure of Baton Rouge agreed to a compromise. It stipulated that the two side front seats of buses were to be reserved for whites and the long rear seat was for African Americans. The remaining seats were to be occupied on a first-come-first-served basis. The Black community agreed to the compromise and the boycott ended on June 25, 1953.
While the Baton Rouge boycott lasted only two weeks, it set protest standards and is growing in recognition as a precedent-setting event in the history of the modern American civil rights movement.
More importantly, this method of resistance doesn’t work from a deficit model and it is a group effort. The boycott model challenges the oppressor, and the group effort avoids masonic co-dependency. Globally we rank in the top 15 spending groups in the world. Nike, Target, T-Mobile, General Motors, Starbucks, and others want our money and nothing else.
Regarding the white-owned corporations mentioned, a national effort is not needed and maybe there is relevance to keeping future resistances local.
It could start with youth rejecting vending machine products at school, fast food chains, restaurants or retailers (online), or brick & mortar. I hope that 21st century African America is not too fragmented to organize itself in such a boycott effort. Between needed unity and organizing only the Black Lives Matter movement has made a Baton Rouge level of commitment. Finally, this resembles the impact of voting, it acts out “Power to The People.”