Bullfrog Films has released a new educational documentary film, titled The Activists, which may be of interest to many of the readers of Mobilizing Ideas. Michael T. Heaney, author of Party in the Street: The Antiwar Movement and the Democratic Party after 9/11 (Cambridge 2015), is among the producers of the project, along with Melody Shemtov and Marco Roldán. The film is priced for purchase by libraries. Discounts are available for community groups or to rent the film. Heaney is available to Skype to your classroom or community group if you show the film. More information is available here: http://www.bullfrogfilms.com/catalog/acts.html
Activists and activism have long been a part of the struggle for peace and justice in American politics and society. Activists have fought battles for civil rights, voter enfranchisement, collective bargaining, and an end to wars. While these struggles have sometimes yielded significant victories, and at other times resulted in disappointing defeats, activism has always been driven by ordinary people who give freely of their time and resources to try to bring about their visions for a new world. However, activists – as well how they fit into the political process – are often overlooked or misunderstood by their fellow citizens.
The Activists: War, Peace, and Politics in the Streets is a documentary film that brings to life the stories of ordinary people who tried to stop and end the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It introduces, among others, a young man who joined the military during high school and then later became a leading opponent of U.S. foreign policy; a grandmother who asked to go to Iraq instead of her grandchildren; a women who confronted the Secretary of State with “blood” on her hands; college students at a dance party to “funk the war”; and a woman who has been an activist since she grew up attending “ban the bomb” rallies in the 1950s. The film shows that activists come from many different walks of life.
Although activism is typically associated with protest marches, The Activists explores a variety of modes of activism in addition to marches. The film follows a group that aspired to knock on “a million doors for peace”; a heavy metal band that played a concert to stop war; veterans who reenacted their missions in Iraq; and an activist who ran for president on an antiwar platform. These efforts raised public awareness about U.S. involvement in wars in the Middle East.
Activists had, at best, limited influence over the conduct of military policy after 9/11. Yet, their experiences in the antiwar movement helped them to learn about speaking out in the face of injustice. They inspired others to do the same during the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street movements. Indeed, democracy requires more than just one vote every four years. It requires continued pressure by citizens on their government. This is what democracy looks like!