Article: Online Activism & Civil Rights

This 2015 New York Times article follows online activists DeRay McKesson and Johnetta Elzie. They were innovators in utilizing the strengths of social media platforms to spread awareness of police violence against African Americans.

“Their innovation has been to marry the strengths of social media — the swift, morally blunt consensus that can be created by hashtags; the personal connection that a charismatic online persona can make with followers; the broad networks that allow for the easy distribution of documentary photos and videos — with an effort to quickly mobilize protests in each new city where a police shooting occurs.”

From 2014-2015 McKesson and Elzie travelled to cities such as Baltimore, New York, and South Carolina to initiate and broadcast protests against the shootings of Eric Garner, Walter Scott, and Freddie Gray- just to name a few.

“…the activists have linked [the victim’s] fates together in our minds, despite their separation by many weeks and thousands of miles.”


It is a long article, yet provides insight into a successful example of online activism. Although institutionalized racism remains an issue in society, the coverage of these shootings and the subsequent protests, specifically the footage McKesson and Elzie captured through vine and Facebook live, was a vital component of spreading awareness on this issue.



One thought on “Article: Online Activism & Civil Rights

  1. Great article, and as you mention, the section on the use of livestreaming to counter-surveil the police really demonstrates how to move beyond “slacktivism” and use social media tools as part of larger organizing strategy.


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