Below are the questions I asked my grandfather (Aged 70 years) and the responses he gave me:
Me: Have you ever participated in any organized public protest
Grandfather: Yes I have
Me: Okay which protest was this?
Grandfather: They were the civil right movements between 1954 and 1968
Me: What were the issues that the protests were addressing?
Grandfather: The protests were against discrimination against racial discrimination and segregation based on an individual’s skin color. The black people were discriminated at work, schools, and hospitals, everywhere
Me: Did all the black people participate on these protests?
Grandfather: Yes they did, including other white people who did not support the discriminations
Me: How did the networks connect with other like-minded participants?
Grandfather: The leaders of the movements which included Martin Luther King Junior, Rosa Parks and Malcolm X delivered various speeches that brought all the black Americans together in the fight to secure legal recognition and federal protection as stipulated in the federal law and in the constitution
Me: Okay, what ideas did the protestors have in common?
Grandfather: All of them had the desires to live in a country and a society where everybody is equally, those that did not participate in the protests were the ones that had accepted the status quo and did not feel the situation could be changed
Me: Why did the protests develop at that particular moment? What fuelled the protests at this particular time?
Grandfather: The protests were fuelled by the arrest of Rosa Park because of defying an act that dictated that black people should give seats to white people in busses
Me: Did the protests bring the desired changes?
Grandfather: After the civil rights protests, the overt forms of racial discrimination and government supported segregation came to an end
When the period of the civil rights movement started, like every black American in the country; he was also tired of discrimination and racial segregation of his children in schools. The people engaged in the civil right protest due to these inequalities in the society in the 1950s and 1960s.They were determined to advocate their rights and the rights of the future generations. They had a desire to live like everybody else in America. The presence of charismatic leaders in these protests contributed to the success and public endorsement among the black Americans. These protests were also fuelled by the arrest of Rosa Park because of refusing to surrender her bus seat to a white person in Alabama. Various persuasive speech by the leaders of the movement ensured that all the black people participated in these protests.
Similar to the 1968 Colombia university rebellion, the black people expressed grievances that were ignored and their quest to use the legitimate way that was far much far from being radical were not taken in consideration. These lead to frustrations and eventually they could not take it anymore.
Below are the questions I asked my brother (Joe aged 18 years) and the responses he gave me:
Me: Have you ever been involved in any protests?
Joe: Yes I was involved in food protests in a group called food not bombs
Me: What are the issues that the protests addressed?
Joe: Inequality in the society and lack of basic needs such as food
Me: How do the people networked to stage these protests?
Joe: Through the social media such as Facebook and twitter, also through printed fliers and posters
Me: what are some of the ideas that the group has in common?
Joe: The group, members believe that all the people have the right to access food and that the government and corporates priorities are skewed to allow hunger in a situation where food is in abundance
Me: How did the government respond to these protests? Was there toleration from the law enforcers?
Joe: The law enforcement agencies were totally against this idea; some of our members were arrested and charged of law violations
Food not bombs is a group of independent collectives who serve free food to everybody without discrimination as a part of protest against the government who according to the group’s ideology are skewed to ensure hunger persistence in the midst of abundance. The groups organize food protests in the parks and streets to show the inequality in the society. They collect food from groceries and well-wishers and serve them for free during protests. The fact that food is a basic need like shelters and clothing and the group’s ideology that there is enough food for everyone consumption is the motivating factor behind this protests (Shannon 2011)
The group is mostly comprised of the youths who feel the inequality in the modern society and who view peaceful protest as a way to express their concerns to the government. They emphasize on their core value of non-violence by serving vegan food only. Food from animal products such as beef, animal fats or dairy products are not served or used to prepare the food for the protest as a way to express the non-violence towards animals and human beings.
These protests had some characteristics similar to the 1968 Columbia university rebellion when the students were protesting the archaic power and the structure of administration in the institution. The demand to be given a chance to be in the decision-making process of the Colombia university which met delayed implementation, the student efforts to settle their grievances in a legitimate ways fell on deaf ears.
Social and political movements or protests results from the society’s quest to see some changes in the political, social or economic sectors.They society mostly takes the step of protesting to express their thoughts and grievances on how their concerns regarding the matter is being addressed. In most cases, these concerns are ignored or delayed resulting to the public expressing their discontent
My grandfather migrated to the United States of America in 1953 from the West African country of Ghana. His motive for immigration was to look for a better living condition and better opportunities together with his small family. They settled in the southern part of the country and enrolled their children in a local school while he engaged himself in looking for a job so that he can sustain his family. However, his search for a job opportunity was not smooth, he says, “There was a lot of racial discrimination against black people and got a job was not easy.” He was lucky however to have secured himself a job as a storekeeper after three months of finding a job. He notes that his employer was a white man who often worked him late and delayed his salary and paid him a meager one for that matter, but my grandfather says that he had to do it because that was the only source of income for the family.
Joe is my younger brother aged 18 years currently enrolled to his undergraduate studies in a local university. He believes in equality, and equitable distribution of resources among all Americans, what troubles him most is the fact that many Americans lack necessities such as food while the rest have more than they need. To express his concerns, he joined the food, not bombs movement and found similar young people that share the same concerns
Simon, Rita J. As We Saw the Thirties: Essays on Social and Political Movements of a Decade.
Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1967.
Shannon, Deric Michael. Making Culture: Social Movements, Culture, and Food Not Bombs.