Tag Archives: civil rights movement

Comparing NFL Protests to CRM Protests

On September 23rd, Bernice King, Marin Luther King Jr’s daughter, tweeted this picture with the caption “The real shame & disrespect is that, decades after the 1st photo, racism STILL kills people & corrupts systems. #America #TakeAKnee @POTUS.”

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“ ‘Walk Together Children!’ The Charismatic Leadership and Race-Conscious Politics of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.”

This month, we’ve celebrated the birth and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who has become the face of African American civil rights in the United States and human rights worldwide. While there is much of King’s legacy that remains under appreciated, particularly his post-1963 “I Have a Dream” speech critiques of capitalism and worker’s rights protests, there is also room to explore the influence of lesser-known Civil Rights advocates and activists. Continue reading

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The ADA at 25: Why Movements Matter Following Legislative “Victories”

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The Disability Pride Parade in New York City, July 2015

Movement scholars have become increasingly interested in the ways in which social movements directly shape the policy agenda; that is, what role they play in how issues gain prominence in the government and how these issues get framed. Much of the focus has been on the relationship between increasing movement activity, such as organizational expansion, protest and lobbying, and increasing resources government allocates to an issue.

However, less is known about the link between movement mobilization and actual legislative promises once policies are enacted, especially in light of subsequent demobilization and issue decline. It’s important to draw attention to this less developed area of study given the renewed interest in defining successful social change and whether movements are themselves successful in influencing these (policy) outcomes.

Take for instance, the case of disability employment anti-discrimination legislation. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was proclaimed the “emancipation proclamation” for people with disabilities and the most significant civil rights law since the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Not surprisingly, it was seen as an important victory for disability advocates in the government and for the disability rights movement. But, in a recent op-ed for USA Today, I argued that when it comes to employment and earnings outcomes, the ADA has failed to deliver. Continue reading

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Media Bias, Media Endogeneity

By Charles Seguin

Citizens of large nation-states generally receive most of their information on social movements through news media. Accordingly, the media are one of the central institutions targeted by social movements. In attempting to understand movement effects on media, movement scholars have sometimes, but certainly not always, conceptualized media-movement interactions within what I would call the “bias model.” The idea behind the bias model is that media attention and framing are subject to numerous organizational, cultural, political, and institutional selection processes which filter movement messages and events to determine which will receive coverage and how they will be framed. That is, some population of movement events and messages exist in the world, and are distorted in news media representations through differential media selection and interpretation. Within the bias model, the media nicely fits the analogy of a movement target—a wholly separate entity at which a movement takes aim. While we’ve learned a lot from the bias model, it is incomplete, and often misleading. The media-movement relationship is endogenous for two reasons. Continue reading

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Understanding the Participatory Emotions of a Social Movement

By Felicia McGhee-Hilt

Ella. Lee. Pettway. Most people are not familiar with that name but she was one of the 50,000 foot soldiers of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. She is also my maternal grandmother.

I deliberated for quite some time about whether I should do a study on the Montgomery Bus Boycott because so much has already been done on it. However, while at the Alabama Department of Archives in Montgomery, I decided to look through old newspaper articles about the boycott. I viewed many pictures, but there was one picture on the front of the newspaper The Montgomery Advertiser that caught my eye. The picture consisted of black domestics walking to work. As I continued to view the picture, I realized that one of the women looked extremely familiar. It was my grandmother. With purse in hand, she was walking along with the many other people that day. It was then that I realized that the Montgomery Bus Boycott was still a ripe research topic.

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Local Rules: Institutional Bases for Challenging Segregation in the Civil Rights-Era South

By David Cunningham

Midway through his provocative article “The Social Psychological Origins of the Montgomery Bus Boycott,” Doron Shultziner presents bus map of the segregated seating pattern inside a typical city bus in 1950’s Montgomery. To me, this schematic was a revelation, encapsulating the promise of Shultziner’s award-winning paper.

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When Does Anger Lead to Protest?

By Francesca Polletta

The insight that reoriented the study of social movements in the late 1970s was that people knew when they were oppressed. The relevant question was not, what led people to feel discontented enough to protest? (This was the question animating strain theories of collective action.) Instead, it was, when did people see themselves as able to act effectively on their discontent? Hence the causal importance attributed to external resources (by resource mobilization theorists) and to political opportunities, indigenous resources, and cognitive liberation (by political process theorists).

Doron Shultziner argues that the earlier question was the right one after all—and he does so in the context of the case that was supposed to have laid to rest accounts of mobilization based on discontent. Not only does discontent matter, he maintains; it may be all that matters. In short, none of the factors that have been used to account for protest generally, and the Montgomery bus boycott in particular, explain the decision of so many people to stay off Montgomery’s buses. No one from the outside injected resources, financial or otherwise. There were no political opportunities. To the contrary, after Brown v. Board, things got worse, not better, as a backlash against school integration swelled the ranks of the notorious White Citizens Council and amplified everyday white aggressions. There were black leadership structures in Montgomery, and they did play a role in the protest, but only after it had gotten underway. As for cognitive liberation, it is hard to imagine what would have led black citizens of Montgomery to feel that political change was newly within reach.

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