From Song To Protest, These 4 Chants Are Pro-Black And Anti-Police

Black Lives Matter demonstrators
Zain Murdock
July 6, 2021

Did you know “F*ck the police” started with 1960s protests during the Civil Rights Movement – and not with NWA? Black liberation has always had its roots in call and response, but the origins of these four chants may surprise you.

“Fuck the police!”

You’ve probably heard this one on NWA’s then-controversial 1988 track. But Black Americans actually started chanting it in 1965 after the Watts Rebellion! 

Black Panther affiliate Marvin X famously ignited the phrase for Watts in his poem “Burn Baby Burn.”

“Say Her Name.”

Often misrepresented as “#SayHisName” or “#SayTheirNames” in response to Black men killed by police, “Say Her Name” was actually created in 2014 to honor Black women specifically who have been killed by police – and are often ignored.

Just like #AllLivesMatter insults Black people, chants like “Say His Name” diminish Black women!

“We have nothing to lose but our chains.” 

Popularized by Assata Shakur’s 1988 autobiography, this quote actually began with Karl Marx in 1848. Assata decided to infuse the anti-capitalist line with unifying Black love and liberation. No wonder it’s still heard at protests today!

“Say it loud, I’m Black and I’m proud!”

This 1968 song also has ties to the Watts Rebellion. In fact, James Brown used 30 children from Watts, Los Angeles to record the refrain! Over 50 years later, folks still holler his song at police brutality protests today.

These are more than just words. They're calls to action! As we fight for Black liberation, we can't let non-Black people co-opt them. We, and future generations, must know where they come from.

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