The Occupy Wall Street protest has been going strong for several weeks now, and in the past few years we’ve seen a whole new political party grow out of a grassroots movement. No matter which side of the political spectrum you fall on, it’s pretty empowering to see such change being affected by ordinary folks.
Social movements have been such a huge part of American history that it’s hard to think of what the country would be like without them. The United States of America was practically founded on a protest, and could you imagine how different our lives would be if the civil rights movement or the women’s movement had never taken place? This is just a short reading list on social movements, but we have many more resources where they came from!
Digitally Enabled Social Change: Activism in the Internet Age: One of the things that has helped recent grassroots organizations gain so much momentum is the Interent and social networking. We’re no longer limited to meeting in a physical space, and spreading the word about social activisim is easier than ever (just look at the last Presidential election). This book examines how the digital world has affected political grassroots movements.
The Art of Protest: Culture and Activism from the Civil Rights Movement to the Streets of Seattle: Music, poetry, film, and paintings are among the most memorable and tangible artifacts to emerge from protest movements. The Civil Rights movement, AIDS awareness campaigns, and the Chicano movement are among the movements discussed in this book.
Voices of Protest: Documents of Courage and Dissent: This is a collection of documents from such wide-ranging figures as Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Rachel Carson, and Ronald Regan. The book includes documents from ancient times to the present, from conservatives and liberals alike, so it’s a great introduction to protest literature.
The Fire This Time: Feminists and the New Activism: This book focuses on the Third Wave of the women’s movement, but also writes of current issues within a historical context. It’s a great outline of some of the current grassroots activism that’s happening in the feminist arena, and the section on how these issues are affecting women globally is especially gripping.
Red Summer: The Summer of 1919 and the Awakening of Black America: The summer of 1919 could be seen as the kick-off to the Civil Rights movement. During that year, racial unrest spread through the country. African Americans began to fight back, fighting violence with violence in many cases, but also organizing politically through the NAACP. This book isn’t for the faint of heart– the violence described is brutal– but it’s worth a read to learn about events that are largely forgotten these days.