Holding a Black Lives Matter Sign in America’s Most Racist Town

Rob Bliss is a director and producer based in Los Angeles and is known for making viral stunts aimed at socially conscious messages. This time Bliss captured his interactions in Harrison, Arkansas on a GoPro camera that he strapped to his chest and peeked out a hole in his T-shirt. He edited his footage down to a two-minute video, which he argues provides vivid firsthand evidence that racism is alive and well in parts of the country. “People in the U.S. believe that there is only institutional racism or biases or subconscious racism,” Bliss said to the Washington Post.

For Bliss, the decision to go to Harrison was simple: he felt like many of the protests were “preaching to the choir.” “These conversations should probably be happening in places where you wouldn’t expect them if you really want to take that leap and get people to better understand you’re fighting for,” he said.

In fact, his video isn’t the first Black Lives Matter moment in Harrison. In June, 10 days after George Floyd died in Minneapolis police custody, a group of young people, almost all White, held a Black Lives Matter protest in downtown Harrison. As they made their way toward the town square, they were heckled while armed White men patrolled the sidewalks and stood on rooftops.

Harrison, a northern Arkansas town of just over 13,000 people, is known for its connections to white supremacy, and its history is steeped in racism. Following the abolition of slavery, Harrison had a burgeoning Black community. But in 1905, when a group of Black men were put in jail for an alleged crime, a mob of White men broke in and beat them, sparking lynchings and home razings. The riots eventually drove out all but one African American resident, according to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas.

Read the whole article at The Washington Post HERE!

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