A new brand of activism is sweeping the country following the murder of Trayvon Martin. Is the ‘old African American guard’ being pushed aside in the rush of young men taking abusive municipalities to task. History is taking a turn away from silencing rhetoric to an era of talk, talk, and more talk among our young. #OYRchallenge
A group of 100 black activists, ranging in age from 18 to 35, had gathered in Chicago that same weekend. They had come together at the invitation of Cathy J. Cohen, a professor of political science at the University of Chicago and the author of Democracy Remixed: Black Youth and the Future of American Politics, and her organization, the Black Youth Project. Launched in 2004, the group was born as a research project to study African-American youth; in the decade since then, Cohen has turned the BYP into an activist organization. The plan for this meeting was to discuss movement building beyond electoral politics. Young black voters turned out in record numbers in the 2008 and ‘12 elections: 55 percent of black 18-to-24-year-olds voted in 2008, an 8 percent increase from 2004, and while a somewhat smaller number—49 percent—voted in 2012, they still outpaced their white counterparts. But how would young black voters hold those they had put in office accountable? And what were their demands?