The images coming out the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, ignited in protests since a white cop shot an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown 10 days ago, are eerily echoing the kind of photos we associate with the Deep South in the years leading up to the Civil Rights Act 50 years ago.
This time around, it’s a little different. We are a nation led by a black man, in spite of the kicking and screaming of less than half the electorate (and probably half of those who could vote but were not uninterested enough to bother). We also have become a global society where the image – delivered in nanoseconds via Twitter, Facebook or any of the thousands of online news sites – enables us to see the bigger picture without reading any of the facts.
If you want facts, click here (as of Tuesday morning August 19).
More will be forthcoming, no doubt. In the interim, the pictures will continue to flood our feeds and Americans (and the rest of the world) will continue to draw conclusions and wonder. Why, 50 years after the Civil Rights Act is racial unrest still a problem in America? Will Ferguson finally be the end of it? Could social media and online coverage as well as instantaneous (and nearly constant) imagery play a healing role? Or will it just fan the flames more glaringly?
Image credits: St. Louis Post-Dispatch cover by David Carson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch; Civil rights water cannon, 1963 by Getty Images; Police fire device at protestors by Jeff Roberson, AP.