As history shows, racial injustice in America and the fight to resolve it has been a long, rigorous battle — and it is one still being fought today.
Generations of activists have been fueled by the fight against the systemic and social inequality — as well as blatant forms of racism — that has gripped America and crippled black communities for decades.
This racial bias, many civil rights activists believe, was the underlying cause of unfortunate circumstances in black history — yet it prompted protests that marked some of the most historic moments of the civil rights movement.
For these protesters, black lives have always mattered — but the effort to bridge America’s racial divide has mobilized a renewed movement, most recently reignited by police killings of black men. It is a movement that has grown massively both in size and in social awareness, and has echoed rallying cries to speak out against the number of injustices against African Americans beyond those believed to be committed by cops.
Many of the same issues recent protests have raised are comparable to those fought by vocal activists during the peak of the civil rights fight in the 1960s and years following. And, while many of those racially charged issues at the time primarily took place in the South, recent demonstrations everywhere from Ferguson, Missouri, to Staten Island, New York, prove that race-based issues have become more of a nationwide concern.
Over the decades, chants have changed and leaders have evolved — but the same belief in the value of black life has fueled the mission of protesters fighting for racial equality.
To put it all in perspective, take a look at the images below, which show somewhat eerie yet powerful side-by-side comparisons of protests past and the new era of the civil rights movement:
Left: Crowds are shown in front of the Washington Monument during the March on Washington for civil rights, August 28, 1963, in Washington, D.C. (Photo by AP)
Right: Demonstrators listen to speeches at Freedom Plaza at the start of the March on Washington, December 13, 2014, in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Evelyn Hockstein for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Left: American civil rights campaigner Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife, Coretta Scott King, lead a black voting rights march from Selma, Alabama, to the state capital in Montgomery on March 20, 1965. (Photo by William Lovelace/Express/Getty Images)
Right: John Legend, Common, Ava DuVernay, David Oyelowo and Oprah Winfrey attend a commemorative march to the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Jan. 18, 2015, in Selma, Alabama. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures)
Left: A group of black men is confronted by state troopers with bayonets at a street corner in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, circa 1960s. (Photo by Express Newspapers/Getty Images)
Right: Police force protesters from the business district into nearby neighborhoods on Aug. 11, 2014, in Ferguson, Missouri. Police responded with tear gas and rubber bullets as residents and their supporters protested the shooting by police of an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Left: Civil rights worker Jerome Smith and other men singing “We Shall Overcome” in Mississippi, 1963. (Photo by Steve Schapiro/Corbis)
Right: Community leaders join hands and form a barrier between police officers and protesters in attempt to diffuse the escalation between the two, during a peaceful protest in Ferguson, Missouri, early on Aug. 20, 2014. (Photo by Michael B. Thomas/AFP/Getty Images)
Left: African American children are attacked by dogs and water cannons during a protest against segregation organized by Martin Luther King Jr. and the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth in May 1963 in Birmingham, Alabama. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Right: Tear gas rains down on a woman kneeling in the street with her hands in the air after a Aug. 17, 2014, demonstration over the killing of teenager Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Left: Congress of Racial Equality members sit in at the base of the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia to protest against racial prejudice and bombing atrocities in Alabama in September 1963. (Photo by Rolls Press/Popperfoto/Getty Images)
Right: Die-in demonstration by students at American University in Washington, D.C., in December 2014. (Photo by ecgeier/Instagram)
Left: Civil rights marchers led by Martin Luther King Jr. cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, after being turned back by state troopers. The marchers had intended to begin a 50-mile march from Selma to Montgomery to protest race discrimination. (Photo by Corbis)
Right: A view of marchers as they assemble on the Edmund Pettus Bridge to commemorate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Jan. 18, 2015, in Selma, Alabama. (Photo by Getty)
Left: Mississippi Highway Patrolmen shove Martin Luther King Jr. and members of his marching group off the traffic lane of Highway 51 south of Hernando, Mississippi, on June 7, 1966. (Photo by AP)
Right: Author and activist Cornel West protests outside the Ferguson police station on Oct. 13, 2014, in Ferguson, Missouri. Several demonstrators and members of the clergy were arrested at the protest after a show of civil disobedience. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Left: Woolworth’s lunch counter sit-in, 1960s. ( Photo by Getty)
Right: Demonstrators stage a Black Brunch protest in New York City on Jan. 18, 2015. (Photo by bkyingb/Twitter)
Left: A 17-year-old African American civil rights activist is attacked by police dogs during a demonstration in Birmingham, Alabama, on May 3, 1963. (Photo by AP/Bill Hudson)
Right: Protesters confront police during an impromptu rally on Aug. 10, 2014, to protest the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri. (Photo by AP/Sid Hastings)
Left: Black preachers lead an open-air prayer meeting as hundreds of blacks join in after protest march was halted in Birmingham, Alabama, May 5, 1963. (Photo by AP)
Right: Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration, prayers and kneel-in, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, on Jan. 18, 2015. (Photo by nalston1/Instagram)
Left: Guardsmen with fixed bayonets in Beale Street, Memphis, as black marchers stage a protest march on March 30, 1968. (Photo by Rolls Press/Popperfoto/Getty Images)
Right: Faith leaders from communities throughout New York City lead a demonstration and prayer vigil on the steps of City Hall on Dec. 12, 2014, in protest of a Staten Island, New York, grand jury’s decision not to indict a police officer involved in the chokehold death of Eric Garner in July. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Left: Coretta Scott King (left, wearing sunglasses), widow of Martin Luther King Jr., leads a march in support of striking hospital workers through Charleston, South Carolina, on May 1, 1969. (Photo by AP/Lou Krasky, File)
Right: “White Coats 4 Black Lives” demonstration at Howard University College of Medicine on Dec. 10, 2014. (Photo by towens2012/Instagram)
Left: Highway patrolmen stand with their guns ready as freedom marchers scatter after tear gas was tossed into the middle of their campsite by the officers on June 23, 1966, in Canton, Mississippi. (Photo by Rolls Press/Popperfoto/Getty Images)
Right: A fellow demonstrator helps a man ease the effects of tear gas during a protest on Aug. 18, 2014, for Michael Brown, who was killed by a police officer Aug. 9 in Ferguson, Missouri. (Photo by AP/Charlie Riedel)
Left: Demonstrators file past the United States Steel Corp. building in downtown Pittsburgh on June 6, 1966, while demonstrating against alleged discrimination in job hiring practices. A similar demonstration was also held in Birmingham, Alabama.(Photo by AP)
Right: Protester holds a sign reading “White silence equals white consent” at the Millions March in New York City in December 2014. (Photo by afrotastic_wench/Instagram)
Left: A man gestures with his thumb down to an armed National Guardsman during a protest in the Newark race riots in New Jersey, July 14, 1967. (Photo by Neal Boenzi/New York Times Co./Getty Images)
Right: A woman, right, yells at a New York City police officer during a protest in New York on Dec. 3, 2014, after it was announced that the police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner would not being indicted. (Photo by AP/Julio Cortez, File)
Left: Demonstrations in reaction to LA Riots and police brutality, May 1992. (Photo by Sygma/Corbis)
Right: Protesters at the Millions March in New York City in December 2014. (Photo by rabiabonour/Instagram)
Left: Military troops arrive in Los Angeles to restore order after rioting occurred in the wake of the verdict in the Rodney King case, May 1, 1992. (Photo by Peter Turnley/Corbis)
Right: Law enforcement officers watch on during a protest on West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson, Missouri, on Aug. 18, 2014. (Photo by Michael B. Thomas/AFP/Getty Images)
Left: Holding hands in Montgomery, Alabama, at the culmination of the Selma to Montgomery March in March 1965. (Photo by Morton Broffman/Getty Images)
Right: A child holds a sign as demonstrators protest outside the Edward Jones Dome in downtown St. Louis, Missouri, on Nov. 30, 2014. (Photo by Michael B. Thomas/AFP/Getty Images)