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My Civic Workout: Your heart is a muscle the size of your fist. Keep loving, Keep fighting.
February 28, 2017
The wave of anti-minority violence following Trump’s election is much like the post–Civil War Reconstruction era, when black Americans began to engage in society as citizens and were met with a wave of reactionary violence, including the founding of the Ku Klux Klan. In order to understand where we are today, we must look back at Reconstruction and how it began to change our country and in the end failed to bring equality.
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5 Minute Workout
Read this article from 2015 by Eric Foner, a leading authority on Reconstruction, to learn how our present is shaped by our Reconstruction-era past.
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10 Minute Workout
Now that you’re warmed up and familiarized, take a look at this list of Supreme Court cases decided based on the 14th Amendment, which was passed in 1868 to give birthright citizenship and due process rights to African Americans. What rights do you have today because of this amendment? Post about it and tag us at @mycivicworkout.
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30 Minute Workout
Your 30 minute workout today is to carry the legacy of Reconstruction forward by making several phone calls with the message that black lives matter.

  • Call your governor: “My name is _______ and I’m calling from (city/zip). I am calling because I am concerned about racialized mass incarceration in (your state) and police violence against unarmed black men and women. I am also concerned about setbacks to police accountability initiatives undertaken by the Justice Department now that Jeff Sessions is the attorney general, and believe that we need to be vigilant about police accountability at the state level. What is planned for penal and policing reform this year? I am strongly committed to these issues because I believe that black lives matter.”
  • Adapt this script to call your state legislators.
  • Call your two senators and your House representative: “My name is _______ and I’m calling from (city/zip). I am calling because I am concerned about racialized mass incarceration and police violence against unarmed black men and women. I am also concerned about setbacks to police accountability initiatives undertaken by the Justice Department now that Jeff Sessions is the attorney general. How will the Senate/House of Representatives hold the Justice Department accountable? What is Senator/Representative ________ personally doing to promote penal and policing reform? I am strongly committed to these issues because I believe that black lives matter.”
Marathon!
The NAACP is encouraging folks to hold screenings of Birth of a Movement, which is streaming for free on PBS until March 5 and tells the story of the African American newspaper editor and activist Willian Monroe Trotter in his fight against Birth of a Nation, the widely popular 1915 film that celebrated the Ku Klux Klan. Birth of a Movement also features the newly formed NAACP, and the organization provides a guide for having a post-viewing conversation.

You can host a low-key screening at your home by inviting over family, friends, and members of the organizations that you’re in, or you can go all out and partner with a local library, coffeeshop, or university organization.
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Second Wind
Read "What if Reconstruction Hadn't Failed?" by Annette Gordon-Reed.
It was tragic that by the 1870s, white northerners, tired of dealing with the South’s racial problems and ready to move on, effectively abandoned Southern blacks to the mercies of people who had not long before thought of and treated them as chattel. Blacks’ status as outside of—or somehow “alien” to—the American republic continued, and continues today.
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Trump's rise to power has shown us that the ghosts of America's past are far from dead. It is up to us all to make sure that the promises of America's founding and Constitution come to fruition. Consider joining a Black Lives Matter or Showing Up for Racial Justice group near you (or attending an event!) to partner with people helping to make racial equality a reality.
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