A tribute to our fallen Black leaders: 2020’s political impact on American history

This week's episode of the 'What’s In It For Us' podcast unpacks some of the Black community's most powerful movements and people

This week, Dr. Christina Greer and Dr. Jason Johnson revisit history with the 1964 Voting Rights Act and 1965 Immigration Act, examining how those policies were an effective win for the Black community. With the Trump administration systematically rolling back policies from the Civil Rights era over the past four years, our hosts take a moment to ask the Biden administration, “Will these policies be reinstated and if so, what’s in it for us?”

“From a policy standpoint, I don’t think LBJ [Lyndon B. Johnson] is reincarnated in Biden,” Johnson jokes to Greer.

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2020 was a whirlwind year in Black history with Black Lives Matter and Say Her Name protests sparking across the nation. Greer notes that it seems as if the country is at “the halfway point of our second Civil Rights Movement” and many don’t know how things will play out. As we’re at the “precipice of what will be the most important presidency,” the Biden-Harris administration cannot mess up or “the backlash in 2024, will take us back into the ’50s,” says Johnson.

President-elect Joe Biden has addressed these concerns, saying during his campaign that his role in office will be “a bridge presidency.” However, the opposite can still happen, and Greer reminds us to be privy to that knowledge. 

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Biden and Harris signs are displayed at Burton Barr Central Library on November 3, 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images)

“We can read articles and newspaper clippings from the ’50s and ’60s, the same exact scenarios are going on. Same hurt, pain, anger is because of what is happening with either vigilantes or the state,” says Greer.

The cyclical behavior of history replays often in the American political sphere. Greer notes that if Biden is to be successful, does he need to establish an agency to “revisit the Votings Rights Act and Immigration.” It’s up to the Biden-Harris administration to put someone who is going to put justice back into these policies in their Cabinet. Both Greer and Johnson agree they don’t want a “race Czar,” i.e. a Black person to be a stand in role that does nothing.

“More and more of people who are our parents’ age have dedicated themselves to make America a better place. How do we make space honoring them and still having to deal with the racist nonsense in doing so?” asks Greer to Johnson.

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We’ve lost a lot of prominent Black folks in 2020 and it’s worth remembering their legacies moving into 2021. From former New York City Mayor David Dinkins to “one of the greatest mayors in the history of the U.S.” Washington D.C. Mayor Marion Berry, there is a true legacy of Black folks who’ve held positions of power in this country.

Let’s continue to honor the fact that Black folks really do get the work done as we stay tuned to What’s In It For Us, the funny, politically edgy Black commentary podcast. Now streaming on Apple Podcast, Spotify, and Stitcher.

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