What Next

A History of Violent Protest

Big structural change in America doesn’t happen without violence.


Episode Notes

The summer of 2020 was a summer of protest. The images were startling: Police wore riot gear, armed with batons and cans of pepper spray. Protesters, sporting bruises, poured milk on each others’ faces. The anguished unrest that spread across the country may have made you feel uncomfortable and angry. But Kellie Carter-Jackson says that’s the point: Peaceful protest may not be able to spur the structural change so many people are seeking.

Guest: Kellie Carter-Jackson, PhD, a professor at Wellesley College and the author of Force & Freedom: Black Abolitionists the Politics of Violence.

Other books mentioned in this episode: The Deacons of Defense: Armed Resistence and the Civil Rights Movement by Lance Hill. And This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed: How Guns Made the Civil Rights Movement Possible by Charles E. Cobb Jr.

We’re re-running some of our favorite episodes from the past year. This episode originally aired in June, 2020.

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Podcast production by Mary Wilson, Jayson De Leon, and Danielle Hewitt, with help from Frannie Kelley.


About the Show

The problem with the news right now? It’s everywhere. And each day, it can feel like we’re all just mindlessly scrolling. It’s why we created What Next. This short daily show is here to help you make sense of things. When the news feels overwhelming, we’re here to help you answer: What next? Look for new episodes every weekday morning.

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  • Mary Harris is the host and managing editor of What Next, Slate's new daily news podcast. She has reported throughout the public radio system, for NPR, Marketplace, and WNYC.