Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor: It was not coincidence that five days after Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law in 1965 the Watts Rebellion in South Central Los Angeles exploded; it was evidence for the rest of the country that participation in a deeply racist and flawed democracy were no guarantee of the freedom and justice that Black people were pursuing. This was a period not only of rebellion but also that saw the flowering of radical organizations with radical expectations for a new configuration of American society—what King referred to as the radical reconstruction of the United States. Millions of people radicalized in the face of self-imposed limits of American democracy.
To put it sharply, voting is not enough when the first words from Nancy Pelosi, upon winning the House of Representatives, are her intentions to “reach across the aisle” in hope of attaining “bipartisanship.” It confirms how out of touch the existing Democratic Party leadership is, how little they have learned from 2016 and that struggle remains absolutely critical to making them take the agenda of poor and working-class people in this country seriously. They will not do it on their own.