“Every moment is an organizing opportunity, every person is an activist, every minute a chance to change the world,” said Dolores Huerta, co-founder of National Farmworker’s Association.
Young and old, we think about our world and how can we make it better. Some watch and hope, some act.
All of us should act.
Those that act usually gather in mass to validate or solidify their concern and attempt to bring about change using their constitutional right to speak out. A visionary that sees the social, economic or political injustice will lead this mass and a movement is born. The leader is an activist and those who follow the flight or fight are also activists.
As students we need to act. It can change our future. Our history is the proof.
Grassroots movements are not new; they can be seen happening throughout time.
Movements can be traced as far back as 1765.
John Adams published an innocent essay and inadvertently began a movement opposing the Stamp Act, a new tax that Britain had imposed on the colonial residents. He worked with the Sons of Liberty until their actions brought about the change they sought. On March 18, 1766, the Stamp Act was repealed before it ever went into effect.
The Sons of Liberty continued their activist movements through a midnight raid on Dec. 16, 1773, also known as the Boston Tea Party, opposing the British Parliament Tea Act of 1773.
That led to new laws imposed by the British, which led to our first Continental Congress and led to the Americas becoming united against Britain.
Being an activist is not a negative thing.
According to a study completed at the Political Psychology Research Inc. in Eugene, Ore., a questionnaire was completed by 91 community college students to ascertain the psychological traits of social and political activism.
The study looked at many variables to determine the hows and whys and the negative and positive aspects of being an activist. One of the determinations was that this group being looked at was “more interested in building up good social and political systems than in tearing it down.”
Being an activist doesn’t necessitate leaving your computer.
Now an activist or organization can work alone by blogging, telephoning or using social media. Many find the internet a convenient and expedient method of reaching out.
An activist can have many faces: students, parents, union members, environmentalists, socialists, politicians, lawyers, lobbyists; the list includes everybody. It would be difficult to get through your day without participating in some sort of change.
The ban on plastic grocery bags, the added tax to gas, no smoking rules, using mass transit, Styrofoam, voting, petitions to sign, there seems to be a movement for everything.
Activists can bring about change using methods such as boycotts, strikes and protests and sometimes it can get ugly. I’ll bet you’re all thinking about Ferguson, Mo. That seems to be a good example of activism gone awry.
It began with a shooting that became a racial incident, and then crowds began to descend on the previously unknown small town. The peaceful majority of the crowd wanted changes to be made, yet this was overshadowed by riots, vandalism and looters.
The purpose became unclear as residents who were interviewed felt differently about how the town was governed. It was reported that not all the participants protesting for change were residents, but bussed-in by activists in hopes of drawing more attention to the volatile situation and to themselves. The town’s argument for change still continues and the violence continues. Now, with the negative environment, it’s considered an unlawful assembly.
There have been many activists that have made a significant impact on history, made our lives better, or created dissent. According to the U.S. Constitution, we have the right to gather and speak freely about what we like or don’t like, how we want to change or not change or where we go or don’t go.
Activists may become public figures in a positive role or a public enemy. They all have a common goal: to make a difference. Sometimes its personal and sometimes it invokes a change that makes the world a better place for all of us. We should all want to be a part of that goal.
- Rally about income equality: (Tish Wells/MCT) | Used With Permission