A brawl that occurred at the Montgomery Riverfront has become a symbol of America’s horrid racial past and present.
Over the weekend, the fight began after a disagreement over a pontoon boat that was docked illegally. A Black male, who appeared to be a security guard, attempted to get the owners of the pontoon, who were white, to move the boat so that the riverboat could dock.
After words were exchanged, several white men began beating on the Black man. Moments into the fight, several Black people who were nearby ran over to the scuffle and helped the Black man. Furthermore, a Black teenager also jumped off of the riverboat and swam over to the dock to assist. It eventually turned into an all-out brawl separated along racial lines.
Multiple people were arrested following the brawl and other arrest warrants have been issued.
The incident sparked a multitude of comments and memes on social media where many users supported those who helped the Black man who was beaten by the owners of the pontoon boat.
For some, it was a small victory in a country where Blacks have historically endured violence from white mobs.
Following the Civil War and Reconstruction, there have been hundreds of racial attacks on Blacks that have occurred across the United States of America.
More notable race massacres include Wilmington Race Riot of 1898; New York Race Riot of 1900; Atlanta Race Riot of 1906; Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921; and Rosewood Race Massacre of 1923.
In 1919, nearly 30 race massacres occurred in America. The influx of racial violence inspired civil rights activist James Weldon Johnson to call that period “Red Summer” where massacres occurred in Chicago; Knoxville; Washington, D.C.; and Charleston, South Carolina, to name a few cities that were impacted.
The location of the Montgomery Riverfront brawl also has an infamous past. During slavery, the Montgomery Riverfront was used as a location to transport slaves.
But decades later, Montgomery became a key place for the Civil Rights Movement that began in the 1950s. Initiated by the arrest of Rosa Parks in December 1955, the Montgomery bus boycott and protests lasted over a year and only ended after the Supreme Court ruled that segregation on public buses was unconstitutional.
More recently, Montgomery became the home of a museum that highlights how racial violence has been inflicted on Black Americans for centuries.
The National Memorial for Peace and Justice sheds light on the terrorism that Blacks have endured by the hands of white mobs who were seeking to instill control and fear. The memorial reveals victims who died by lynching, stabbing, drowning, burning, beating, and shooting.
Many of the victims were tortured before taking their last breath.
That’s why the Montgomery Riverfront incident is so polarizing. When numerous people on social media expressed joy in seeing a Black man being helped while white men beat him, it’s because there is recognition and remembrance of the pain that thousands of Blacks endured who never got that opportunity.
Violence will never solve the racial disparities in education, income, generational wealth, health, and police brutality. But in a land where inequality remains persistent, even a minor victory during a brawl can feel significant to some.