Category Archives: Social Movement Leadership

Coalition-Building through “Everyday” Social Movement Leadership

By Amanda Pullum

When I ask my students to tell me about social movement leadership, they often paint one of two metaphorical pictures. The first is of well-known leaders—Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, Rosa Parks, and others—whose contributions are usually described in overly broad terms. The second is of so-called “leaderless” movements, like Occupy, in which modern technology and strategic innovation are thought to enable diffuse decision-making processes, with no individuals in true leadership roles. Continue reading


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Just What Do We Mean by Leadership Anyway?

By Andrew Martin

For as long as there have been social movements, popular culture has been quick to either laud or demonize leaders of popular protest (and often those that were once scorned eventually become mythical heroes). The successes enjoyed by the Civil Rights movement was due to the effort of numerous organizations and thousands of activists willing to put their life on the line, yet Martin Luther King jr. remains the face of racial struggle in America. He is, for many Americans, a symbol of justice and the personification of racial equality. The list of other social movement leaders and revolutionaries, both loved and hated, is extensive: Vladimir Lenin and the Bolsheviks, Caesar Chavez and the farmworkers movement, Che Guevara and the Cuban Revolution, Susan B. Anthony and the women’s suffrage movement, to name just a few. Continue reading

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