To help give some historical context to the police killing of George Floyd and so many other black people in this country, we at NPR’s Throughline podcast wanted to take a deep look at the history of policing in America. We wanted to understand how the relationship between police and the Black community had evolved to one so bloody and tragic.
We talked to Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Professor of History, Race, and Public Policy at Harvard. He lays out a historical argument for how Black people have been criminalized over the past 400 years, in both the North and the South. The histories of both regions share one key feature: the use of brutal force to control Black Americans.
• Listen to the full NPR Throughline podcast episode “American Police” at https://www.npr.org/2020/06/03/869046127/american-police
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