Black Lives Matter?: Africana Religious Responses to State Violence

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Journal of Africana Religions

Publication Date


Date Added



In February 2012, the teenaged Trayvon Martin was killed with impunity in Florida while walking home from a neighborhood store. The acquittal of Martin’s killer, George Zimmerman, sparked indignation and protests. Even more jolting was the police killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed African American pedestrian, in Ferguson, Missouri. Unlike Martin’s death, the slaying of Brown could not be dismissed as the behavior of a lone renegade. Rather, it was an act of the state, part of an intricate web of fatal policing practices that have repeatedly targeted Blacks. After a grand jury refused to indict Darren Wilson, the white police officer who fatally shot Brown, Wilson reiterated that he had no regrets about killing the young victim. That Brown’s killer could walk free underscores a historical pattern of the state killing unarmed Blacks that goes unpunished and is defended as an act of duty. Since that time, scores of police attacks against Blacks have been in the national spotlight, from the slayings of twenty-two-year-old Rekia Boyd in Chicago and Tanisha Anderson in Cleveland to that of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, who died after being beaten by police. The unabated scale and frequency with which state actors have killed innocent, unarmed Blacks has become painfully visible.





Comments/Extra Notes

Additional authors: Maxam, Kijan; Rashid, Hussein; Muhammad, Precious Rasheeda; Sensbach, Jon; Williams, Shannen Dee