By Mavish Khan 

Activist and writer Shaun King told a crowd at Rutgers University’s Gordon Theater in Camden, that he had a lesson to teach them in how they got to this “deeply disturbing time” in the country.

Back when King was in graduate school, he got stuck in a class about German historian Leopold von Ranke. After looking at all his options to try to get out of the class, he realized it was between this or advanced badminton and decided to stick it out.

Historian Leopold von Ranke on the screen – Photo by Mavish Khan

Leopold von Ranke wrote out timelines of history. Ranke was worried that people were confusing the “steady improvement of technology with the steady improvement of humanity.”

King put up a picture of a bar graph with each bar higher than before. Just because the wheel, refrigeration, medicine, or the phone progressed on this level does not mean that humanity does. If it does, that means the highest level is now- and the best of humanity is Donald Trump explained King.

“Time is not unfolding the way humanity thought it was unfolding for thousands of years. Let me go deeper. As human beings we want to believe that this is how time works (referring to bar graph below), psychologists have written about it- we want to believe that we did it a little better,” said King.

 Bar graph showing that with time things get better – Photo by Mavish Khan 

In reality Ranke believed that humanity had peaks and valleys. Right now we are in a dip.

“After there is an introduction of innovation that disturbs the primary people in power ugliness happens in respond,” said King.

King  is a senior justice writer for the New York Daily News and a commentator for The Young Turks. He became an activist after getting an email with a video of New Yorker Eric Gardner dying in a chokehold. King shared it and continued to do the same for other police brutality deaths that followed. He is well known for his use of social media to promote the Black Lives Matter movement.

The reality of the world- ups and downs – Photo by Mavish Khan 

King showed a picture that was a diagram on how to put as many slaves on a boat as possible. When there were slaves there was very little lynching. Slaves were property and were taken care of within the confines of the homes they worked for. But the Civil War happened and the Emancipation Proclamation freed the slaves. Then came the KKK and lynching- something had disturbed and triggered people.


 Diagram of how to fit as many slaves as possible on to a ship – Photo by Mavish Khan 

Then came the innovative idea of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, followed by mass incarceration. Which then brings us to history today, he said, where 102 unarmed African American men, women, and children have been killed by police last year. He said that doesn’t include people who were killed by things that look like weapons like spoons for example. And this all happened, he said, while the the United States had its first black president, Barack Hussein Obama.

Obama is the most groundbreaking idea of all said King. He was sort of from the Southside of Chicago, but also from Hawaii. His mother was a white woman from Kansas, while his father was from Africa. And he has the most bizarre name possible. But it happened, Obama won and that bothered a lot of white people most notably Trump, who started the birther controversy.

King showed videos of Trump rallies where a black woman was being pushed out or a young man was being elbowed in the face by a white man who said “the next time we see him we may have to kill him.”