Category: Protest: Past & Present

A Lesson in Protest: Teaching History and Citizenship in the Trump Era

This semester I am teaching a course called “Resisting State Violence: Race, Policing, and Social Justice in Twentieth-Century America.” One of the course objectives is to encourage students to investigate the histories of policing, surveillance, political repression, deportation, and incarceration, and the ways they intersect with racism, settler colonialism, xenophobia, economic exploitation, and sexism and… Read more →

100,000 Women in Trafalgar Square: Remembering The Forgotten Women’s March of 1979

On January 21 this year, thousands of people rallied in central London in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington, along with millions of others around the world. These protesters were, of course, responding to the specific brands of misogyny and racism that are seen to characterize Trump’s America and Brexit Britain. And yet the… Read more →

For the Love of Data: Science, Protest, and Power at Love Canal

For many environmental activists and scientists, the phrase “Love Canal” remains indelibly marked in the imagination. A toxic waste site that pitted scientists and citizens against the government, it is heralded as one of the first successes of the environmental movement in holding the state accountable for the public health of its residents. In 1896,… Read more →

Before the Pink Hat: Abolitionist (and Other) Objects of Protest

The point of public protest is to draw attention to something — to make the invisible wrong visible, and thus demand that we recognize and engage with it. To this end, protest and resistance movements have long made use of material culture, from murals to t-shirts. While by current prevailing wisdom we should phone our… Read more →

The Pill Kills: Women’s Health and Feminist Activism

On December 16, 1975, a group of Washington, D.C. area women’s health activists held the first-ever protest at the headquarters of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The demonstration took the form of a “memorial service” to commemorate the thousands of women who had died from using the contraceptive pill and other estrogen-containing drugs, and… Read more →

Pink Triangle Legacies: Holocaust Memory and International Gay Rights Activism

In the twenty-first century, it’s hard to imagine a social movement without hashtags. Social media has influenced issues ranging from local elections to global geopolitics (just ask anyone involved in the Arab Spring), and hashtags have become forms of communication and customizable symbols representing specific movements. But what about social protests in a pre-Internet age?… Read more →

The Campaign to Confront Nixon and End the War in Indochina

Now that Trump has been installed as President, many Americans are turning to history for inspiration in resisting his agenda. I suggest that a little-known group, the Indochina Peace campaign, an antiwar organization founded by Tom Hayden, actress and activist Jane Fonda, and others may offer a model and strategy. As much of the work on… Read more →

“Save Changes”: Telling Stories of Disability Protest

At first, it was a simple case of “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em,” as I worked with WikiEducation Foundation to teach a methods course in which students created disability history content. But the more I learned, the more it became clear that we were engaging in multiple forms of protest, especially once I… Read more →

UK Squatters’ Fight for Decent Housing

The topic of squatting — living in or using a dwelling without the owner’s permission — often elicits condemnation from the well-housed, confusion or fear from those who consider modern civilized life to revolve around a stable and secure home, and a general attitude that only dirty hippies would resort to essentially living illegally and… Read more →

From “Sip-in” to the Hairpin Drop Heard Round the World, Protests Can Work

Do protests work? Certainly they can make the participants feel that rather than passively accepting injustice they are doing something about it. But do they actually create change, or do they just enrage the opposition, which traditionally paints protestors as the equivalent of spoiled brats in mid-tantrum? While protests can be little more than acts… Read more →