Opinion: Summer 2014, racial divides and ugliness in AmericaBy Errol LouisUpdated 12:02 PM ET, Wed September 3, 2014Photos: Protests past and present 19 photosProtests past and present – A protester in Ferguson, Missouri, stands in front of police vehicles with his hands up on November 24. A grand jury's decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson for the killing of Michael Brown prompted new waves of protests in Ferguson and across the country. The "hands up, don't shoot" gesture has become a rallying cry and protest symbol. Click through the gallery to see memorable images from other protests throughout history.Hide Caption 1 of 19Photos: Protests past and present 19 photosProtests past and present – On March 12, 1930, Indian nationalist leader Mahatma Gandhi led a nonviolent protest against the British Empire. The march protested the British tax on salt, a necessity of everyday life. Gandhi called for Indians to illegally make salt or buy it illegally. More nonviolent protests against the tax were mounted in large cities across India, and Gandhi's methods eventually led to India's independence.Hide Caption 2 of 19Photos: Protests past and present 19 photosProtests past and present – Rosa Parks became an inspiration for the modern civil rights movement when she was arrested in Montgomery, Alabama, on December 1, 1955, after refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger on a city bus. For 381 days, African-Americans boycotted public transportation to protest Parks' arrest and, in turn, segregation laws. The boycott led to a 1956 Supreme Court ruling desegregating public transportation in Montgomery. Soon after, Parks was photographed near the front of a bus in what became an enduring image of the civil rights movement.Hide Caption 3 of 19Photos: Protests past and present 19 photosProtests past and present – A 17-year-old civil rights demonstrator, defying an anti-parade ordinance in Birmingham, Alabama, is attacked by a police dog on May 3, 1963. Hide Caption 4 of 19Photos: Protests past and present 19 photosProtests past and present – The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. waves to supporters on the Mall in Washington during the March on Washington on August 28, 1963.Hide Caption 5 of 19Photos: Protests past and present 19 photosProtests past and present – Jan Rose Kasmir stands in front of National Guard members outside the Pentagon during an anti-Vietnam War march on October 21, 1967.Hide Caption 6 of 19Photos: Protests past and present 19 photosProtests past and present – Students in Paris hurl projectiles at the police on Boulevard Saint-Germain during the uprisings of May 6, 1968.Hide Caption 7 of 19Photos: Protests past and present 19 photosProtests past and present – Black Panther members protest in Chicago in 1968.Hide Caption 8 of 19Photos: Protests past and present 19 photosProtests past and present – A pacifist demonstrates in Santa Monica, California, on June 15, 1968.Hide Caption 9 of 19Photos: Protests past and present 19 photosProtests past and present – Tommie Smith and John Carlos, gold and bronze medalists in the 200-meter run at the 1968 Olympic Games, raise their fists in the Black Power salute on October 16, 1968, in Mexico City.Hide Caption 10 of 19Photos: Protests past and present 19 photosProtests past and present – John Lennon and Yoko Ono give a press conference during their "bed-in" for peace at an Amsterdam hotel in March 1969.Hide Caption 11 of 19Photos: Protests past and present 19 photosProtests past and present – Mary Ann Vecchio kneels over the body of student Jeffrey Miller during an anti-war demonstration at Kent State University in Ohio on May 4, 1970.Hide Caption 12 of 19Photos: Protests past and present 19 photosProtests past and present – Young Chinese demonstrators protest official corruption and urge democracy in Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989.Hide Caption 13 of 19Photos: Protests past and present 19 photosProtests past and present – A man in Tiananmen Square stands in front of a column of T-59 tanks on June 4, 1989.Hide Caption 14 of 19Photos: Protests past and present 19 photosProtests past and present – Police Lt. John Pike at the University of California, Davis, uses pepper spray to break up Occupy UC Davis protesters on the school's quad on November 18, 2011. This image sparked controversy amid the Occupy protests and fueled the flames for protesters. A judge ruled that the university must pay Pike $38,000 in workers' compensation for the depression and anxiety he suffered as a result of the backlash from the incident. Hide Caption 15 of 19Photos: Protests past and present 19 photosProtests past and present – Egyptian army soldiers arrest a female protester during clashes at Tahrir Square in Cairo on December 17, 2011. On January 25, people took to the streets in demonstrations against corruption and failing economic policies. From the beginning, the revolution in Egypt was propelled by the use of social media. The events in Egypt served as a flash point for journalists on the ground, too. For perhaps one of the first times, history itself has been recorded instantaneously, as reporters took to Twitter to share 140-character updates and personal stories from the protests.Hide Caption 16 of 19Photos: Protests past and present 19 photosProtests past and present – A riot police officer uses tear gas as people protest the destruction of a park for a pedestrian project in Istanbul's Taksim Square on May 28, 2013. The woman in red became the face of the protests.Hide Caption 17 of 19Photos: Protests past and present 19 photosProtests past and present – Protesters in Kiev, Ukraine, catch fire as they stand behind burning barricades during clashes with police on February 20. Kiev's Independence Square had been the center of anti-government protests since November 2013, when President Viktor Yanukovych reversed a decision on a trade deal with the European Union and instead turned toward Russia.Hide Caption 18 of 19Photos: Protests past and present 19 photosProtests past and present – Riot police use pepper spray as they clash with pro-democracy protesters outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong on September 28. Demonstrations began in response to China's decision to allow only Beijing-vetted candidates to stand in the city's 2017 election for chief executive. Protesters say Beijing has gone back on its pledge to allow universal suffrage in Hong Kong, which was promised "a high degree of autonomy" when it was handed back to China by Britain in 1997. The umbrella has become the defining image of the protest movement, used to shield protesters from tear gas and the elements.Hide Caption 19 of 19Story highlightsErrol Louis says racial divisions in America were again exposed by the shooting of Michael BrownBlack Americans lag behind when it comes to economic and educational opportunities, studies showEven with a black president, suspicions of racial profiling will remain a live, lingering concern, says Louis Louis predicts more flashpoints like what happened in FergusonThe name "Ferguson" will enter America's political vocabulary alongside cities like Detroit, Harlem and South Central Los Angeles -- places where black Americans rioted in the streets following the violent mistreatment of unarmed black men at the hands of police.Despite amazing progress in some areas of race relations -- notably, the election and re-election of Barack Obama as President -- the United States also harbors a deep, durable strain of racism that occasionally flares into public consciousness, sometimes with explosive results. The summer of 2014 was one of those times the curtain was pulled back and the ugliness emerged.On July 17 in New York City, half a dozen police confronted a man named Eric Garner for allegedly selling cigarettes on the street without a license to do so. A bystander's phone camera captured video of the police pushing Garner to the ground using a chokehold as Garner, a father of six, repeatedly said "I can't breathe." He died shortly afterwards. A few weeks later on August 5, in Beavercreek, Ohio, a man named John Crawford was shot to death inside a Walmart store after police responded to an emergency call about a man waving a weapon. Crawford turned out to be holding a pellet-shooting BB gun he'd picked up from a shelf inside the store (which sells the gun). On August 9 in Ferguson, Missouri, police killed a teenager named Michael Brown and left his body uncovered in the street. Witnesses say Brown had his hands up when an officer fired six shots into his body. A week of demonstrations and violence followed. On August 11, a 25-year-old man named Ezell Ford was shot to death in Los Angeles. Police say Ford attacked an officer after his car was stopped; other witnesses say he was not resisting and was killed while lying down in the street. All around America, demonstrations have taken place to protest what some call a national epidemic of police brutality toward black men. There's no sure way of knowing whether there is a pattern of police imposing deadly force on blacks, but civil rights organizations have long complained about racial profiling -- the practice of assuming members of a racial minority group are engaged in criminal activity and detaining or arresting them for that reason alone.The funeral of Michael Brown 17 photosThe funeral of Michael Brown 17 photosThe funeral of Michael Brown – Michael Brown's casket arrives at St. Peter's Cemetery on Monday, August 25. Brown, 18, was shot and killed by police Officer Darren Wilson on August 9 in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown's death sparked protests in the St. Louis suburb, and a national debate about race and police actions.Hide Caption 1 of 17The funeral of Michael Brown 17 photosThe funeral of Michael Brown – Michael Brown Sr. yells out as the casket holding the body of his son, Michael Brown, is lowered into the ground during his funeral service in St. Louis on August 25. Hide Caption 2 of 17The funeral of Michael Brown 17 photosThe funeral of Michael Brown – Family members touch the copper top of the vault containing Brown's casket.Hide Caption 3 of 17The funeral of Michael Brown 17 photosThe funeral of Michael Brown – Mourners fill the pews for the funeral service at Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis.Hide Caption 4 of 17The funeral of Michael Brown 17 photosThe funeral of Michael Brown – Lesley McSpadden, Brown's mother, sits during the funeral on August 25.Hide Caption 5 of 17The funeral of Michael Brown 17 photosThe funeral of Michael Brown – The Rev. Al Sharpton speaks during the funeral.Hide Caption 6 of 17The funeral of Michael Brown 17 photosThe funeral of Michael Brown – A Brown family member wears a tie with Michael Brown's face on it.Hide Caption 7 of 17The funeral of Michael Brown 17 photosThe funeral of Michael Brown – People sing during the funeral for Brown.Hide Caption 8 of 17The funeral of Michael Brown 17 photosThe funeral of Michael Brown – Brown's casket sits inside Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis before the start of his funeral.Hide Caption 9 of 17The funeral of Michael Brown 17 photosThe funeral of Michael Brown – Funeral attendees sing before the start of the service on August 25.Hide Caption 10 of 17The funeral of Michael Brown 17 photosThe funeral of Michael Brown – Brown's mother, Lesley McSpadden, arrives at Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church for the funeral service.Hide Caption 11 of 17The funeral of Michael Brown 17 photosThe funeral of Michael Brown – Brown's father, Michael Brown Sr., arrives for the funeral.Hide Caption 12 of 17The funeral of Michael Brown 17 photosThe funeral of Michael Brown – Funeral attendees raise their hands as they wait in line to enter the church on August 25.Hide Caption 13 of 17The funeral of Michael Brown 17 photosThe funeral of Michael Brown – Filmmaker Spike Lee takes a picture of a St. Louis Cardinals baseball cap that rests on top of Brown's casket.Hide Caption 14 of 17The funeral of Michael Brown 17 photosThe funeral of Michael Brown – Mourners wait in line to enter the church.Hide Caption 15 of 17The funeral of Michael Brown 17 photosThe funeral of Michael Brown – A hearse sits outside the church before the funeral.Hide Caption 16 of 17The funeral of Michael Brown 17 photosThe funeral of Michael Brown – James Wright waits for the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church to open for the funeral service.Hide Caption 17 of 17EXPAND GALLERYSuch practices are illegal under the U.S. Constitution. "Racial profiling continues to be a prevalent and egregious form of discrimination in the United States," says the website of the American Civil Liberties Union. "This unjustifiable practice remains a stain on American democracy and an affront to the promise of racial equality."America has fought a long battle to ensure equal opportunity and legal treatment for descendants of the African slaves who spent centuries in bondage until the practice was outlawed in 1863. But many stories show black Americans lagging far behind when it comes to economic and educational achievement. Studies show that white families, for instance, had an average of $113,149 in household wealth in 2009 compared with only $5,677 for blacks. Educators have discovered a persistent gap between black and white students on standardized English and math tests. These gaps have existed for decades, but they seldom result in the kind of street demonstrations and riots that followed the recent killings in Missouri and elsewhere. That's because poverty and ignorance are social ills that people can battle gradually. Racial profiling and police violence, on the other hand, represents a form of injustice that is impossible to ignore. History suggests that grinding poverty and discrimination create social dynamite -- but it's police violence that triggers the explosion. Adam Serwer of Buzzfeed recently described some of this history, accurately, as 80 years of Fergusons. In 1935, a false rumor swept through Harlem that a 16-year-old, arrested for shoplifting, had been killed by police. It touched off two days of rioting. In 1962, riots went off in St. Louis -- a stone's throw from Ferguson -- when a teenager was shot to death while running from a policeman who claimed the boy had tried to grab his gun.After riots broke out in Detroit in 1967 -- five days of chaos that left 41 dead -- a presidential commission found that police aggression, along with racism and discrimination, was to blame.In 1980, the Liberty City section of Miami went up in flames after a man named Arthur McDuffie died in police custody after a motorcycle crash. One responding officer later testified that his fellow cops had beaten McDuffie with flashlights; when the officers were acquitted, rioters took to the streets. Miami burned again in 1989, after an officer shot a motorcyclist to death (the officer ended up convicted of manslaughter, although the conviction was later overturned).And in Los Angeles in 1992, the acquittal of officers who'd been videotaped beating a motorist named Rodney King led to riots that left more than 50 people dead.Then, as now, the social unrest reminds many black Americans of a time when violence -- including violence by police -- was used as a tool of social and political intimidation. In the 1960s, at the same time urban riots were taking place, police were also used to attack and brutalize African-Americans seeking the right to vote. A famous series of protests in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963, led by Martin Luther King Jr., led to mass arrests and attacks by police using dogs, fire hoses and clubs on nonviolent demonstrators. A similarly brutal attack on demonstrators followed in Selma, Alabama, in 1965. Black political leaders are making a connection between the politically-motivated police violence of the past and the current cases of possible profiling. It was significant that two of King's children, Martin Luther King III and Bernice King, attended Mike Brown's funeral, along with the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who was at King's side the day he was assassinated. The biggest difference between past violence and the current cases is that African-Americans now have much greater political influence -- most notably, a black president. Obama sent high-ranking aides to Brown's funeral, and the nation's top law-enforcement official, Attorney General Eric Holder, made a personal appearance in Missouri, wrote an open letter to the town and deployed 40 FBI agents to investigate the killing of Brown.The nightly violence involving citizens and police in the days following Brown's killing have stopped for now, but the national debate over the politics of policing will continue long into the future. Even with a black president, this summer's cases show that suspicions of racial profiling will remain a live, lingering concern from coast to coast as long as cops apply outsized levels of force that rarely, if ever, get applied outside of black communities. Will we see more Fergusons? My guess would be yes. 80 years of history suggest that the inequality and discrimination that continue to plague black communities around America are still a kind of factory creating vast amounts of social dynamite. Those tensions can be detonated by a single clash between police and citizens in a country where encounters take place thousands of times every day. So the odds suggest there will be more times when America pays the price for maintaining a gap between the American dream and the very real nightmare of poverty and racism in our midst.Ferguson shooting & protestsComplete coverageFollow our complete coverage of the protests and aftermath of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Some witnesses lied, changed their storiesThe grand jury in the case of Michael Brown's shooting heard from witnesses who couldn't be believed at all.Four mothers share pain of losing sonsTheir sons have become symbols of a raging national conversation about police brutality and racial injustice.Barkley: Not all profiling is wrongCharles Barkley -- who once said he doesn't create controversies, he just brings them to our attention -- is at it again.The hug shared around the worldIt's the picture we needed to see after a week like this.Darren Wilson resignsThe resignation comes five days after a grand jury decided not to indict the Ferguson, Missouri, police officer for killing Michael Brown.'Racism without racists'In a classic study on race, psychologists staged an experiment with two photographs that produced a surprising result.What witnesses told the grand juryDid Officer Wilson shoot Michael Brown dead as he staggered to the ground, hobbled by gunshot wounds? Or, did the 18-year-old aggressively charge at Wilson?Officer Wilson: 'I did my job right'Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson said that he's not tormented by that fateful encounter in suburban St. Louis last summer. The country reacts to FergusonNews about the grand jury's decision not to indict Wilson spread quickly nationwide, spurring spontaneous rallies. See a collection of reactions from across the country.Are the protests near you?If you are in Ferguson or have witnessed protests where you live, share your story with CNN. Personal essays and video commentary are also welcome.What Darren Wilson told the grand juryTranscripts of testimony that jurors heard considering Michael Brown's death have been released to the public. Photos: Officer Darren WilsonPhotos of Officer Wilson taken after his altercation with Michael Brown have been released. What's next for the Michael Brown family?His mother ran down the street, tears streaming down her face. His father said he was "devastated."How prosecutor defended grand jury's decisionAll eyes and ears were on St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch when he announced there would be no indictment.Who's who in Ferguson As tensions in Ferguson, Missouri, have bubbled, one official after another has taken the lead, grappling to figure out how to stop it from coming to a boil.Photos: Protests in FergusonSee images of the protests in Ferguson, Missouri. Who was Michael Brown?"He was funny, silly. He would make you laugh. He'd bring people back together," his father, Michael Brown Sr., told reporters. More from opinionWhy Iran's rise is a good thingHow Boris Nemtsov's murder serves notice to Vladimir Putin's enemiesAre drugs stifling women?