Human being interactions follow complex dynamics that keep the society running without conflict. Interaction of various individuals in the society and people within various social couplings lead to the development of mechanisms that control the actions of others against violating the comfort and right to enjoy their lives as fulfilling, as they would possibly achieve. Through generations, conflicts arise among the various people living in a community over differing issues such as resource distribution, security from attacks, sharing of common social amenities and many other spheres of human interaction. As generations come and go, so do human relations with each other as individuals and as communities. Conflicts between two or several communities often arise from resource conflicts, fear of completion, need to subjugate the others to gain control over them. (Zachariah 1994).
In shaping social change over the years there has been contribution from individuals and from collective or organizational efforts as well, in determining the direction society should take concerning certain issues. The Chicano movement and the African American movements provide ample insight into the roles played by individuals and collective effort towards the attainment of their various aims.
The Chicano movement was a movement by the Hispanic population of the United States with several grievances to both the federal and state governments. These grievances included, land reallocation, racial segregation in the use of public places, segregation of pupils in schools, farm workers welfare and other issues affecting the Hispanic community in the united states then. The African American movements similarly, were in existence for as long as the African slaves were there. The African American struggles initially focused on emancipation of Africans from the York of slavery. After achieving independence, the movements continued in the new search of equality in treatment as an equal race to the Caucasian Americans.
These movements were long and drawn out over long periods. Gains made from these movements were not final means to a goal in themselves, but slight concessions by the dominant white population over long periods. Personalities could not outlast the movements and movement faces of leadership changed as much as the struggle lasted. The movements needed a fiery personality to motivate action. Without the much-needed brave and fiery leadership, these movements receded to the dark sitting rooms of their members due to fear of targeting by the pro-white government.
Using the Chicano movement example, there were brave leaders to the movement such as Cesar Chavez of the united farm workers union, Rodolfo "corky" Gonzalez of the crusade for justice. Despite their ability to lead and agitate for change, they were unable to effect any change individually. They allied themselves to organizations such as the student bodies in the universities and farm workers union associations. These associations were able to make profound statements by their deeds and misdeeds than would be achieved by individual. The massive high school student’s strike of March 1968 is an apt example of the amount of success achieved by the collective effort. The strike paved way for more aggressive mass action such as the Third World Liberation Front (TWILF) strike action at the UC Berkeley, which lasted from January 1969 through to April the same year. The action was successful in the sense that it led to the formation of Black, Asian, and Raza Studies Departments under the umbrella of a planned College of Ethnic Studies. (Rosen, G. P. 1975)
The black movements also fielded strong individuals in their quest for social justice. These individuals include Marcus Garvey, martin Luther king junior, Malcolm X, du Bois and many others. They however thrived under the collective initiative of the groups they formed as opposed to individual effort. Martin Luther king operating as a reverend was able to mobilize large followings for peaceful demonstrations. There was a significant public nuisance and a statement making show by the mass demonstrations as opposed to individual airing of views. Gates, H. L. (2011). In expressing a common concern in a large group, consideration is more realizable even to the most basic of human rights they were demanding then, than as a single person. Group involvement caused the movement to endure several lifetimes of leaders. The main idea remained in the group’s common memory and whenever opportunity presented itself, the movements would quickly capitalize on it to move their nationalist agendas. These groups maintained a spirit of rebellion over the generations something that individual leaders could not have achieved.
Gates, H. L. (2011). Life upon these shores: Looking at African American history, 1513-2008. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
Rosen, G. P. (1975). Political ideology and the Chicano movement: A study of the political ideology of activists in the Chicano movement. San Francisco: R and E Research Associates.
Zachariah, M., & Sooryamoorthy, R. (1994). Science for social revolution: Achievements and dilemmas of a development movement - the Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad. London: Zed.