Tag: If We Must Die

Movie Review: Whose Streets? (2017)

Whose Streets 1

Protest poetry is a thing I only recently really paid attention to. That’s on me. But in my studies, I found protest poetry from throughout history to be some of the most directly powerful stuff I read while studying for my Master’s degree. Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “The Mask of Anarchy” dramatizes the British Army’s response to civilian protesters and acts as a call to action for continued protests in the future. Claude McKay’s “If We Must Die” is a rousing poem of courage in the face of sure destruction. Both of these poems (and many others!) have lived long lives, reappearing when new protesters find them and use them as inspiration and rallying cries. “The Mask of Anarchy” became important for the labor protests in American factories at the start of the 20th century, and “If We Must Die” was among the literature available to the prisoners at Attica and likely influenced their rebellion against their harsh imprisonment. Whose Streets?, a documentary about the Ferguson protests sparked by the murder of Michael Brown in the summer of 2014, documents in part how a poem of resistance from the 70s became again relevant in a new context.

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