Throughout all of American history, people have protested to bring change, but do these protests actually provide an effective vehicle for social change?
Peaceful protesting is a great way to protest without breaking the law, however, people tend to take these protests too far, resulting in possible jail time. Having a criminal record, as you most likely know, could prevent you from going to college and getting employed. Also, your supporters are might see your movement becoming dangerous so you could lose supporters of your movement. So violently protesting is never a good option because it usually only bring harmful effects. Peacefully protesting, however, can usually provide positive effects.
Protests can bring lots of media attention to an issue. Take for example, the 1913 Suffrage Parade. Even though women had been fighting for the right to vote for over sixty years, this particular protest caused a nation-wide debate on the right to vote. Although, it’s not a guarantee that every rally will spark a large political controversy. It took six whole decades for people to start noticing sexism in politics, and I’m sure there were a lot more protests before the Suffrage Parade. As you can see, protests can bring lots of attention to a topic, but movements of any kind take time to be noticed.
The obvious reason for protesting is to bring change, but how important are these changes to our lives? The answer is that they are VERY important. Without protesting, you wouldn’t be able to have all the rights you have right now. I could give you hundreds of examples as to why they are important, but I’ll only give you one for now. The Civil Rights movement has definitely changed history for the better. This movement is the most recognizable movement in American history. As you most likely know, this movement is famously known for its peaceful protesting.
There’s nothing more American than using your right to peacefully assemble. In many countries, people can be arrested for defying the government. Whereas in America, you have the power to legally cause change. During the 2008 Beijing Olympics, seven foreign activists were advocating for Tibetan freedom in one of the parks. Chinese officials later deported these protesters. Other “First Amendment Rights” such as freedom of speech, religion, and press are censored in China. This example shows how important it is to exercise our right to peacefully assemble for others that can not.
Another great way of protesting are walkouts. Recently, there have been lots of walkouts especially within the teaching community. On April 2, 2018, teachers in the Oklahoma Education Association rallied to form a statewide walkout among teachers. Educators did this because of the lack state funding and salary. After nine days of not going to work, teachers returned to their classrooms. Nothing happened after the walkouts, and OEA members were not happy. Some even felt like they were in a worse place than when they started. However, lawmakers have passed a bill in July raising minimum salary including salary for teachers. This bill increased minimum yearly salary for teachers by at least $5000. This bill marked a milestone for teachers in the OEA who had fought for better funding. While not a whole lot happened at first, teachers eventually “won” their battle.
Civil Disobedience, or protesting, can help give a voice to the voiceless. For instance, look at the teens who survived the Parkland Shooting. Whether you agree with their ideas for gun control or not, we can all agree that their protests started a global conversation. Because of teenagers being under the legal voting age, their views in politics usually go unheard, but this tragedy helped young adults realize that they can use their voice to get a point across.
After taking all these examples into account, I have come to the conclusion that protests of any kind can be an incredibly effective way to help our society evolve, as means of positive change. As long as you are willing to express your opinion, you can change the world around you just by participating in a protest.