Looking Back and Towards the Future

By Jailynne Estevez ‘21

 Artwork by Valeria Sibrian '21

Artwork by Valeria Sibrian '21

Margaret Mead, a cultural anthropologist in the 1960s, stated: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens, can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead was right. In the 1960s, the Civil Rights movement fought against segregation under Jim Crow Law. This was a drive for social change. It is those who recognize the flaws within a system that congregate in order to fix those flaws.

The 1960s are years defined by steps towards social change and the push towards greater equality for American citizens. The Civil Rights movement fought for equal rights for African Americans; they protested and put themselves on the line against segregation. The Civil Rights movement took a non-violent approach to their form of protest. Their tactics involved sit-ins and marches. The Greensboro sit-ins in North Carolina were one of the first forms of this non-violent style of protest. Students would come into Woolworths, a department chain across the United States at that time, and ask to be served. The students' goal was to end the segregation policy the chain had. Sit-ins were a powerful non-violent act. The students involved in the Greensboro sit-ins faced violent acts of anger towards them. The sit-in tactic later gained further popularity with other students throughout the country, fostering the growth of the student protest movement.

Technological advancements such as television and smartphones have allowed easy access to update the movement’s current events. In the past, the Civil Rights movement was broadcasted on television, which spread tactics such as other non-violent ways of protest. It was through television that movements across the country and around the world could see the similarities in their approaches or end goals. In the current digital age, individuals are able to see the wave of social movements worldwide on their phone screens. Instagram and Twitter have been the catalysts for movements such as Black Lives Matter, Ni Una Menos, or #MeToo. Digital media makes it easy for everyone to feel solidarity within each movement, and resistance becomes a shared language.

The Black Lives Matter movement today is a progression from prior movements such as the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Power movement. Fighting against police brutality, the Black Lives Matter movement shows the work that still needs to be done towards fighting discrimination and racism. Through activism and street protests, Black Lives Matter has utilized social media in its favor to communicate and spread ideas. Much like the Civil Rights movement, Black Lives Matter has been able to galvanize not only one but many collectives. These individuals see the inequalities and injustices that prevail in today's society and are determined to create a counter-narrative.

Social movements are the catalyst towards social change. It is through social movements that individuals are able to express their concerns to an oppressive society. In this current political climate, social movements are becoming more prominent, and the ability to share ideas through digital media has mechanized movements everywhere. With this easy share of ideas, one can be easily inspired to act and look towards the future to challenge the existing system.