“The freedom and human capacities of individuals must be developed to their maximum but individual powers must be linked to democracy in the sense that social betterment must be the necessary consequence of individual flourishing.” — Henry Giroux
"What I really feel is radical is trying to make coalitions with people who are different from you," maintains Barbara Smith. "I feel it is radical to be dealing with race and sex and class and sexual identity all at one time. I think that is really radical because it has never been done before."
The Our Lives Matter movement began as a free writing assignment, in an English 2150 classroom at Baruch College. It embodies what Henry Giroux and Barbara Smith both believe: we achieve liberation, and consequently an improved society, when we develop the individual, as well as when we form a coalition of very different people, with perhaps different agendas, yet the common goal of liberation and social uplift. Our Lives Matter encourages our students to ask themselves a simple, and yet at the same time, very complex question: Why does my life matter? I asked this question of my students after reading “Letter From Birmingham Jail,” by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. King believed that his life mattered, and from that existential epiphany, he encouraged others that regardless of the color of their skin, their religious preference, their gender, or their social class, their lives mattered, and were of distinct, and unquantifiable value. This knowledge allowed people to strive to make a positive difference in a fractured society. In the 21st century, understanding why our lives matter is no less essential than it was during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960’s.
We encourage you to post freely about why your life matters. By doing so, you affirm your power, as well as resist political, cultural, and social erasure. This is essential as we all seek collaboration, meaning, and identity.
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