Past, Present, and Future of Ferguson

Sarah Thebeau
Heather Parker

Abstract

The history of Ferguson Missouri has had a complicated relationship with race; from the time of it’s incorporation in 1855, the city of Ferguson was a “sundown town” or a neighborhood that uses different forms of segregation to enforce rules. In 2014, an African American teenager named Michael Brown was fatally shot by a local police officer and his body was left in the streets for four hours until first responders arrived. This apparent disregard for a local community member sparked a reaction from local residents who were concerned. They perceived this as an all- to-common bias on the part of law enforcement and their treatment of African Americans. The people of Ferguson gathered in the streets to protest and show their discontent for the ongoing abuse of power and constitutional violations. This small gathering of people in Ferguson Missouri added momentum to the Black Lives Matter movement that had already begun in 2013 with the murder of Michael Zimmerman. The Black Lives Matter movement was used to polemicize the institutionalized racism that exists in towns like Ferguson. The stage was set for the start of what would become a national social movement for civil liberties and human rights decades after assurances of equal rights were legally made into law. Although racial injustice occurs everywhere and sometimes with more devastation, why was Ferguson held up as the banner for police brutality, and widespread structural violence that exists within African American communities ?