May 1 ‘Day without an Immigrant’ lessons

The civil rights movement did not tone itself down to accommodate the racists. On the contrary—it grew in scope and militancy. The continued struggles of the Student Nonviolence Coordinating Committee, the Deacons for Defense, and the emerging Black liberation movement cleared the way for the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act that ended legal apartheid in the U.S. South and opened the door for affirmative action and other social gains.

It is a lesson for today’s immigrant rights movement.

When a movement emerges seemingly out of nowhere, with millions in the streets, there will of course be a counter-reaction. But that counter-reaction has been tiny in numbers and influence as compared to the mass immigrant rights protests of the past few months. We have the numbers. Let’s keep organizing and mobilizing. The civil rights movement did not win because it accepted half-measures or token gestures nor did it back down from the KKK and white racism. Instead, it kept pushing until it was victorious.

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