Montgomery, Alabama, became a live session on critical race theory and Black American history after a video of a riverfront melee went viral. Black rebellion in the United States is often minimized and mischaracterized as willful and feral acts of violence versus being a self-defense response.
Brother Malcolm said it best. “I don’t even call it violence when it’s in self-defense; I call it intelligence.”
The melee in Montgomery was a full-circle moment in Black American history.
Stay with me.
The capital city’s riverfront was once a significant stop for transporting enslaved Africans by riverboat from New Orleans to Montgomery. From Alabama, the embattled slaves were carried by train to Georgia. According to the Equal Justice Initiative, by 1860, Montgomery’s economy was booming from the slave trade, and the location was one of the most well-known posts for the insidious business.
Sit with that for a moment.
The site of Saturday’s melee was the heartbeat for the attempted egregious destruction and abuse of Black people. The same earth where our ancestors were bought and sold became the place some 200 years later– where justice would be served.
The Montgomery brawl isn’t the only act of rebellion throughout our history.
The perception that Black folks in the United States have typically stood down is a blatant lie. Although it’s not taught in schools as of late, there are many instances when Black folks got tired and fought back. You can find a few examples below.
- The Stono Rebellion 1739
- The Rebellion in Montgomery County, Maryland, 1845
- Denmark Vesey Rebellion in South Carolina 1822
- The New York City Race Riots 1900
- The Chicago Race Riots 1919
More than Black folks being defiant, we organized ourselves for rebellion, knowing the decision to fight back could cost us our lives. But when freedom evaded us, what did we have to lose?
And Black rebellion progressed with groups like the Black Panthers, which formed in Lowndes County, Alabama, in 1965, and the Deacons For Defense (a group of Black clerical leaders who fought in World War II and defied the civil rights movement of nonviolence) in Louisiana in 1964, so when the freedom fighters from the Alabama melee came in swinging on their brethren’s behalf– it was a prime example of the ancestral footprint our predecessors engrained in our very DNA.
The now-viral melee video, which occurred on August 5– showed a Black dock employee for the city being physically attacked by white boaters who were simply asked to move their watercraft so the Harriott II, a Montgomery city-owned riverboat, could dock in its proper place. As the irate gang of white boaters jumped the dock worker, skinfolk came far and wide to help the distressed man. And although he was holding his own against one man, the city employee couldn’t take on an entire squad. And when I say “help,” I mean bows were thrown… along with one soldier going oops upside the head with a white folding chair of one unlucky domestic terrorist.
A heroic 16-year-old teen, identified only as “Aaren,” swam 90 feet to assist the dock worker. The teen, who now has a publicist, clarified that he was doing what he was taught.
Black Twitter beamed with pride after the video went viral. Videos concerning the melee ranged from educational to outright hilarious. Y’all know Black Twitter is unserious as hell. Here are the best tweets.
Even the riverboat’s crew jumped in to defend their fellow city worker.
Not one tweet taunting good ole boy Jason Aldean! We da best!
Even Plies said he would’ve gotten in on the action. He prefaced his Instagram post about not hitting women and kids, but video footage revealed that everybody got the smoke.
“B*tch, I Wish I Was In Alabama Tonight, Bih!!!! 🤣🤣🤣🤣 They Gave It To Y’all Azz Tonight!!!! 🤣🤣🤣🤣 (As Long As They Ain’t Whip No Kids Or Women) But All Y’all Tripled Teamed My Boy On The Dock Y’all Azz Get It Bih!!! 😤”
For those who are wondering what one of the drunk gang members thought… Stand by! Though it hasn’t been confirmed if this is actually one of the molly-whopped terrorists… it sure is funny as hell.
But in all seriousness, even though Black rebellion feels so far removed from our modern world– the Fade in The Water melee of 2023 in Montgomery definitely was a display that would have made our foremothers and forefathers proud.
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