BLM Project Proposal

Background:

The United States has a long and storied history of racial discrimination and oppression. Since before its founding day, it has never been a safe place for people of color to live. Even after the trappings of slavery were officially discarded, various laws and institutions remained in place to ensure that African Americans were never allowed true equality. This remains true up to the present day, despite the common belief of many non-black Americans that racism ended with Martin Luther King Jr. Black men and women in the US are still often treated without respect or humanity. From the moment they are born, the books are stacked against them. Black children are judged more harshly than their peers, black teenagers are often forced out of the education systems that are designed to help them, and black adults are extrajudicially punished for crimes they did not commit.

In August of 2013, a young African American named Trayvon Martin was gunned down by a white man in the name of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law. The shooter was acquitted, causing an uproar throughout the country. People took to social media, tweeting their rage using the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter, out of which spawned a national movement. A national eye was turned to the all-too-common unjust deaths of black people. A year later, Mike Brown was killed by policemen in Ferguson, Missouri, his death exaggerated to justify the murder. Protesters took to the streets in droves, asking for the shooter’s indictment and investigation, to little avail. In the following weeks and years, many more African Americans  were killed at the hands of the police, men and women, young and old, from every walk of life. Out of these, the Black Lives Matter movement grew significantly, supported by the anger of a whole nation.

To this day, Black Lives Matter continues to act, driven by the the murders and injustices that the black community faces. Black Lives Matter has branches throughout the country, but also organizes heavily through social media. Though decentralized, BLM follows a number of intersectional guiding principles to unite the movement as a whole.

 

Project Goal:

Create a detailed, interactive, and accessible summary/timeline of BLM as a movement on the web. Secondarily, the web page should be persuasive as well as informative, and allow users to get involved with BLM, but this is not a priority.

 

Questions:

What are the specific mobilization, policy, cultural goals of the Black Lives Matter movement so far? What are the goals that they plan to reach in the future?

How does the decentralization of the Black Lives Matter movement help/hinder the work towards their goals?

What are the approaches BLM takes and why are they effective or not?

 

Case Selection:

BLM Activities from August 2013 onwards

 

Methods:

Twitter/Social Media Analysis: Since so much of Black Lives Matter activities are organized and documented through Twitter and related social media, it is important to look at social media to understand and contextualize what was going on at any given time.

Timeline Creation: Timelines are an easy way for users to intuitively understand how a movement unfolds and how individual events up. Also, using the aforementioned Twitter data to provide primary sources for timeline information.

Discussion of Goals/Achievements: Connect events on the timeline to the goals of the movement.

 

Tools:

Twitter API: https://dev.twitter.com/docs

Google Timeline API: https://developers.google.com/chart/interactive/docs/gallery/timeline

Bootstrap: https://getbootstrap.com/

 

Workplan:

  1. Design Website/Create Templates for Content. Deadline: March 26
  2. Make first draft of timeline with dummy twitter comments and sources associated with entries. Deadline: March 29
  3. Insert relevant tweets/sources. Deadline: April 1
  4. From that point on, iterate on existing design and provide more detail on the timeline.

 

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